About Us

Our Choir – Past, Present & Future

Ashtead Choral Society is celebrating over 70 seasons of music-making. We have a reputation for presenting varied and exciting programmes with professional soloists and orchestras.

We normally perform three major concerts each season, in a variety of venues, including Dorking Halls and larger local churches. We have also travelled abroad to sing in the wonderful cities of Europe, and are planning to do so again in 2024.

We are a friendly, non-auditioned choir, passionate about the many benefits of singing together. Our ethos is very much about having fun whilst challenging ourselves to achieve the best performance that we can.

You can read about our future programme and all our previous concerts by following the links below. Or CLICK HERE to stay in touch and receive our e-newsletter.

Our Music Team

Andrew Storey – Musical Director

Andrew Storey was born in the seaside town of Blackpool and as a youngster was inspired by the sounds of the Tower Ballroom, and the shows and cabaret acts in local pubs, clubs and hotels. These formative years inspired him to take up the organ and after winning various scholarships and acting as an organist and repetiteur in and around London, he was encouraged to take up the baton and guide others to sing and perform. Andrew firmly believes that every concert is a performance that should leave an audience tapping their feet, humming the tunes and feeling they have connected with the emotion of the music. He often says, “There is nothing better for an individual’s well-being than being part of live music making”.

Choral societies, Andrew maintains, belong at the heart of any community and in this day and age there are lots of reasons why members join. Some crave the challenge of performing the greatest choral works ever written, some enjoy a night out with friends, and some want to learn new skills and improve their vocal technique. Hopefully, he says, the majority attend for all three of these reasons.

He says that, “It is the Musical Director’s job to embrace everyone and ensure that rehearsals are above all fun, professional and that improvement is made over time. Everyone pays their subscriptions for this service which a conductor should provide whilst maintaining the fine balance between the individual and the collective.”

Andrew’s philosophy is that choirs are all about teamwork and his job is to ensure that everyone, including the conductor, learns something new about a piece they are preparing for performance, no matter how many times they have sung it. When planning repertoire he believes all choirs should be on a journey and should start their planning by performing the greatest choral works, like Elijah, Messiah, The Creation, Brahms Requiem etc. on a regular basis. With three concerts in a season most choirs should be able to find room to build on these by exploring other repertoire to enhance their tone and collective sound. He says that, “We should be on a learning curve in every rehearsal”.

Andrew has enjoyed a long association with Ashtead Choral Society dating back to their tour to Prague in 2001 where he managed to break two organs in four days, and ride a bucking bronco at 3 in the morning!  Since that time, he has played in several concerts and toured with them to Florence, Salzburg, Bruges and Luxembourg, before his appointment as Musical Director in September 2018. About tours, Andrew says that, “there is nothing better than a tour to bring a choir together”.

As well as being the musical director of Ashtead Choral Society, Andrew is the conductor of the Ashtead Singers, one of the premier chamber choirs in Surrey, is the founding conductor of the Old Bailey Choir, and has for the last 30 years been the repetiteur for the Hackney Singers.

Andrew teaches at Dulwich College where he also sings in the Chapel Choir, and during his 25 years there has found time to return to his musical entertainment roots by conducting senior school musicals, such as Guys and Dolls, Kiss me Kate, Cabaret and Me and My Girl.

 

Stephen Ridge  MA  LTCL – Rehearsal Accompanist

Stephen is originally from Wigan, and began to play the piano at the age of seven. After winning two national awards whilst still at school, Stephen obtained his performer’s diploma shortly before going to Queens’ College Cambridge to read modern and medieval languages. Whilst at university, Stephen also developed his singing, and appeared as a choral and orchestral conductor. After university, Stephen also spent 12 years in the London Symphony Chorus, working in London and abroad with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein and Sir Colin Davis.

Stephen’s wide-ranging solo repertoire ranges from Bach to the present day. As accompanist, he has worked with many singers and instrumentalists, including on works such as Rachmaninov’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, and the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss.

Stephen has also given a number of recitals of piano duet and two-piano music with his duo partner Simon Phillips, particularly featuring works by Rachmaninov, Ravel and Brahms.