Kirbye Voices visits the Guildhall
for uplifting choral concert

7 Apr 2021

“The facilities were excellent,
the staff were professional and helpful
and the ambience was delightful”

Kirbye Voices is an established mixed chamber choir based in Bury St. Edmunds. Performing for over 50 years, the choir is made up of around 30 experienced voices and is directed by Penny Hill. Named after the late Tudor and early Jacobean composer George Kirbye, who lived and worked in Bury and is buried in St. Mary’s Church, the choir frequently performs his renowned madrigals. For the concert at the Guildhall in July 2019, ‘Sleep now my muse’ was amongst the arrangements that Kirbye Voices chose as their midsummer programme. Beginning with Elgar and ending with Billy Joel, Kirbye led their audience on a journey across styles and periods of music.

From medieval to modern arrangements, Kirbye Voices offer a wide-ranging repertoire that encompasses both sacred and secular, largely unaccompanied, choral music. As well as being invited to sing at numerous local churches in Suffolk, the choir has performed at cathedral services across the country, including Canterbury, Ely and of course St. Edmundsbury. Their knowledge of religious pieces therefore lends itself to the venues where they commonly play. However, their performance at a secular civic building such as the Guildhall provided scope for exploring their choral collection in all its diversity.

“When stepping into the Guildhall, I instantly thought it would be a lovely place to sing.”

John Wilkin, treasurer and committed member of Kirbye Voices, has been singing for 70 years and knows a great music venue when he sees one. When given a tour of the Guildhall following a meeting he attended there, John immediately admired its intimate atmosphere and historical setting and soon booked a date for Kirbye’s concert.

“The choir really enjoyed the event,
they were very well looked after.”

In the Court Room, the audience were swept away by an array of vocals weaved together in beautiful harmonies as Kirbye presented a variety of short pieces by Vaughan Williams, Holst, Elgar and Gerschwin. Throughout the performance were instrumental solos on the cello, oboe, piano and flute by musicians within the choir, which provided an assortment of sound for the audience and moments of rest for the choir. Amazed by its accessibility, acoustics and ambiance, Kirbye thoroughly enjoyed performing at the Guildhall.

“We really enjoyed singing at the Guildhall and we will enjoy singing again.”

Itching to come back, the choir booked the venue again for 2020. Rescheduled to October 2021, it may be the first performance they have done since 2019. The Guildhall are very much looking forward to their reunion!

To find out more about Kirbye Voices click here to visit their website.

Quotes from John Wilkin. Interview by Rosie Grant.