Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Voices Now reveals results of Big Choral Census

4:04, 11th July 2017

There are at least 40,000 choirs singing regularly in the UK, according to Voices Now.

The charity has revealed the results of its Big Choral Census – its first piece of research – which examined the activity and volume of vocal groups across the UK.

The charity’s online survey collected information on over 3,200 choirs in the UK, cross-referencing this figure with membership lists from members of the Singing Network UK and adding the number of estimated church and school choirs to estimate that there are at least 40,000 choirs in the UK and 2.14 million people singing regularly.

The choirs which participated in the census range in size from four to 700 people, and have members of all ages, from six years to over 100 years old. Two thirds of the choirs surveyed do not audition.

When asked to describe what type of singing group they are, 36% of the choirs identified as a community choir, with 18% describing themselves as a choral society and 15% as a chamber choir. Other categories included refugee choirs, ‘tuneless choirs’, and choirs related to health and wellbeing.

The ensembles surveyed perform a range of repertoire: 63% sing modern/contemporary music, 60% perform classical repertoire, and 48% opt for folk/traditional pieces.

Noting that 300,000 more people participate in a choir than in amateur football each week, the report suggests that choirs are a ‘worthwhile activity to receive greater financial support’, stating that with an injection of funding for grassroots activity, choirs could benefit from access to better sheet music and arrangements; vocal coaching; IT equipment and software; music equipment; and more.

The report concludes by saying: ‘Choirs have potential to do more. Currently choirs are self-funding and in many cases reliant on members paying some form of subscription. With more support choirs could involve more people, develop their artistic activity and contribute more to communities across the UK.’


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