Islington Choral Society: ‘Our music will brainwash you’

Islington Choral Society on tour in Assisi, Italy

Islington Choral Society on tour in Assisi, Italy - Credit: Archant

Choirs can be seen as stuffy or exclusive. But not the Islington Choral Society, which is open to all. The Gazette speaks to chair Jill Broadbent.

Jill Broadbent, chair of Islington Choral Society

Jill Broadbent, chair of Islington Choral Society - Credit: Archant

Make sure your voice is warmed up. You will be expected to read music well. And if you’re feeling ill, it’s better to postpone as second chances are rarely granted.

These are part of the audition requirements of another north London choir, and they sound as harsh as the most demanding job specification.

Jill Broadbent, chair of Islington Choral Society, says her choir has a different approach.

“We are for people who live and work in Islington,” she says, “but anybody can join.

“We are a community choir and if somebody wants to sing beautiful music, they can do so here.

“We don’t audition, which is unusual. It’s not like others, which can be quite hard to get into and will only give you one chance to audition.”

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Islington Choral Society’s history stretches back to the 1920s, when it “flourished” until disbanding around the time of the Second World War.

It re-grouped in 1972, and now has 150 members. Most of them meet at weekly practise sessions in Highbury Baptist Church, on the edge of Highbury Fields.

The society performs major concerts three or four times a year, and Jill says it is a community within a community.

“To perform at concerts is very exciting. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to meet new people.

“We are a big community and a lot of people go to the pub with each other after practice sessions. And you always see members while out shopping or at a Tube station.

“You get a regular opportunity to sing, and when you have that outlet, the music becomes a soundtrack in your head. It’s good for the soul. It’s almost as if the music brainwashes you to think positively.”

Jill joined the society five years ago and became chair last year: “I like singing and this was the closest to my house. I loved it from the first evening I attended.”

Islington Choral Society’s next concert is performing Haydn’s Creation with Camden Symphony Orchestra. It takes place on Saturday in St John Smith’s Square, Westminster. See for more information.