The “Hackney Choral Society” was formed as an evening class in singing in 1973 as part of the Hackney Institute adult education programme. The choir was renamed “The Hackney Singers” in 1979 and it became independent in 1982. It grew from strength to strength to become a mixed-voice choir of over 100, registering as a charity in 1986.
We rehearse most Thursdays 7.30-9pm at Lauriston School 55 Rutland Road E9 7JS
We present at least three concerts a year, working with professional orchestras and soloists and we've had the privilege of taking part in many other events around London.
Along with five other choirs from across London, over 80 members of Hackney Singers participated in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, performing a specially commissioned piece, Principia, as well as Britten’s version of the National Anthem.
I would always encourage anyone who wants to join a choir to go ahead. I joined Hackney Singers in 1986 and was very nervous as I had never sung in a choir before, except for school. I certainly had never sung anything like Handel’s Messiah, which was my first challenge, but, although I didn’t read music well at all, my ear took over. I am so glad that I did join and have looked forward every week to rehearsals. Singing is definitely good for the soul!
HS is unusual for non-audition choirs due to the ambitious repertoire the music team selects for us. There’s no dumbing down; the assumption is that anyone can get to grips with good music. I’ve certainly been exposed to a huge range of music I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. It’s also important to me that the choir does feel properly local; it’s hard to put your finger on, but it does have a Hackney vibe. It may not precisely mirror the demographics of the entire borough, but I certainly meet people I wouldn’t come across anywhere else.
Something I think is different about Hackney Singers is our performance skills that the music team has developed. We can get to a pitch where we give truly exciting and moving performances.
Hackney Singers started off in 1973 as an evening class, and perhaps that is the key to its ethos; anyone who wanted sing could sign up without the worry of an audition. Our Music Team continually select an ambitious repertoire for us and have developed the choir’s performance skills all without ceremony, due to their dedication and the enthusiasm and staying power of our members. The choir is committed to rehearsing and performing in Hackney and, in addition to concerts, this has led us to representing the borough in the Paralympics and working with a Hackney-based film company on a feature production. Our annual Christmas concert raises funds for the Hackney Night Shelter.
Our rehearsals are stimulating and illuminating as well as being extremely enjoyable. Our music director, Dan Ludford-Thomas, leads our rehearsals and accomplished organist Andrew Storey assists. The choir’s appreciation of the high quality of our musical direction has been proved by the excellent and enthusiastic attendance at rehearsals.
The Hackney Singers rehearsals are simultaneously entertaining, relaxing and challenging. Andrew and Dan leave us in no doubt that we must continue to work hard and improve ourselves but, more often than not, they manage to do that by making us laugh – lots.
Dan Ludford-Thomas enjoys a busy schedule as a conductor, chorus master and singing teacher in London. He directs a wide variety of choirs from professional ensembles, church choirs, chamber choirs and large symphonic choruses. He performs regularly in major concert venues across the country.
In London, Dan has conducted many large scale performances for massed choirs and orchestra, including Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor at the Southbank Centre, Verdi’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Fairfield Halls, Croydon and Carmina Burana at Cadogan Hall. He has conducted numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the London Mozart Players, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, the Forest Philharmonic and the Orchestra da Camera.
At the 2013 BBC Proms, Dan was the chorus master for the Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, preparing them to sing Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, before returning in 2015 for Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody and Triumphlied, both conducted by Marin Alsop. In 2018, Dan returned to assist Marin, preparing the same choir and orchestra for two more performances of Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, the second of which took place at the Royal Festival Hall and was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Dan enjoyed a return to his role as chorus master for the Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the 2022 BBC Proms, preparing the choir for their performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass conducted by John Butt.
In 2012 Dan worked as a choirmaster on BBC2’s The Choir: Sing While You Work, subsequently becoming Artistic Director of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, and enjoying success as the co-producer and musical director for the Choir’s 2015 Christmas Number One Bridge Over You. He returned in 2013 to work on the second series of the programme, this time with Citibank Choir with whom he has continued as Musical Director - highlights include performing at the Hammersmith Apollo and at a series of concerts in New York. In 2015 Dan worked behind the scenes as choirmaster for The Choir: Gareth Malone’s Great Choir Reunion.
Dan is in demand as a singing teacher and is Head of Vocal Studies at Dulwich College. For over a decade he has taught and given master classes on the Rodolfus Foundation Choral Courses (formally Eton Choral Courses) and makes regular visits to the University of Durham, giving conducting and vocal master classes.
As well as being Musical Director of Lewisham Choral Society and Hackney Singers, Dan is Musical Director of the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain and the Principal Conductor of Vox Urbane.
Andrew Storey was organ scholar at Blackpool Grammar School and went on to read a degree in Music and Mathematics. Whilst undertaking his PGCE at Christ Church College, Canterbury he was appointed their first organ scholar and studied with David Flood. He is currently the Director of Music for Faversham Choral Society, Director of Music for the Ashtead Singers, Assistant Director of Music for the Hackney Singers and organist at The Church of the Holy Innocents in South Norwood.
Andrew has worked with the Hackney Singers since 1992, recently and has worked a variety of repertoire including Messiah (Handel) in the Festival Hall, Gloria (Rutter) with Onyx Brass, Organ Concerto (Poulenc), Creation (Haydn), Gloria (Poulenc), Petite Messe Sollenelle (Rossini) and Carmena Burana (Orff). He has played the organ for Ashtead Choral Society on tours to Prague, Florence, Pisa, Salzburg, Verona and conducted them on their most recent tour to Luxembourg. Recently with Faversham Choral Andrew has conducted Creation (Haydn), A Ceremony of Carols (Britten), Requiem (Cherubini and Faure), Little Organ Mass (Haydn) and Messe de Minuet (Charpentier).
For over a decade Andrew has conducted the Ashtead Singers, a Surrey-based chamber choir, in concert and in liturgical services in a variety of cathedrals including Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Albans, Brussels, Southwark and most recently on a highly successful tour to Christ Church cathedral Dublin.
Andrew works at Dulwich College as Director of IT and enjoys assisting in the music department, especially singing in the Chapel Choir and conducting senior school musicals such as Guys and dolls, Kiss me Kate and Grease!. Just to keep himself busy he is also an Independent Schools’ Inspector, and as part of job works closely with local schools as part of the Southwark Schools’ Learning Partnership. In 2012, Andrew was delighted to be invited to be on the panel for the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ post-graduate performance bursary at the Royal College of Music. He has also conducted the festival evensong for the Lord Mayor of London.