Past Events


Saturday 7th – Sunday 8th July ~ A weekend of performances with the Ktema choir from Brittany See our events page for further details

Friday 23rd March ~ Dance to your Daddy! ~ All Saints Church, Brightlingsea
The title was taken from the music hall song of over 100 years ago – sung in the North East of England and performed in the concert. We already sing in many dialects, from South Africa for example, so why not sing in the English dialects too? Geordie, Cockney are dialects you only really know if you live in the local area. We had dialect songs from the West Indies, the American Deep South, South Africa (of course) including Afrikaans, and five wonderful country songs from France.

Friday 23rd February ~ Winter Warmer ~ St Mary’s Church, Peldon ~ Towering Angels and Octavia
Winter Warmer was an evening of nostalgia for a time when the audience joined in whether they knew the chorus or not.  Some performers told stories; some sang  songs but added a spoken commentary – patter songs. (You will hear their ancestors in Gilbert and Sullivan). Some sang American Favourites from the early 20th century – Irene Goodnight, Midnight special; some sang Polly Perkins in the Geordie tongue – Cushie Butterfield, and East End standards ‘if it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between. And of course, the great pub songs ‘Two lovely black eyes’ and Lily of Laguna.


Friday 15th December ~ A European Christmas ~ Wilson Marriage Centre, Colchester
Quire performed traditional and composed carols from the European Tradition

Wednesday 6th December ~ Fete de Noel
Octavia and Towering Angels performed for the Anglo French Society

Friday 17th November ~ Youth must have its dalliance’ ~ Towering Angels with Colchester Waits
A celebration of the command of Henry VIII ‘to come and enjoy yourselves!’ Two vibrant local amateur groups combined forces to bring you an evening of European music from the middle ages to the present with song for feasting, worship, drinking and travel about our own local hero – John Ball.

20th to 22nd October ~ appearances in Hull – UK City of Culture 2017

Friday 30th June ~ Breaking the Chains ~ Swinburne Hall, Colchester Institute
A celebration of songs of travel and the new freedoms brought by the liberated, both in North and South America , in Africa and even in Australasia.

June 2017 ~ Octavia and Towering Angels trip to Brittany
Over a weekend the two small groups sang with Ensemble Vocal Ktema, a community choir in the Lorient region. We gave three performances from a selection of songs that reflected our interest in French and Scottish song, North and Central American song and some of the African numbers which our French friends had requested. We sang in chapels in three villages near the coast. The villages were beautiful, the people generous and welcoming, and the reaction at each concert was wonderful.

Friday 31st March ~ American Dream ~ Wilson Marriage Centre, Colchester
A concert of North American songs.


Friday 16th December ~ And is it true? ~ Lion Walk Church, Colchester
A reflection by Africans and African-Americans on their ‘take’ on the infancy narrative. A Christmas Concert with African drumming.

Friday 9th December ~ All Saints Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival
Octavia sang as part of the opening evening

Saturday 5th November ~ Mzungu – travels around Africa ~ Wivenhoe Congregational Church
Mzungu is the generic African name for European people in Africa and Quire (being mostly Europeans!) sang from their extensive African repertory.

Friday 1st July ~ ‘Just for the record’ ~ Wilson Marriage Centre,Colchester
The end of the Quire year and we celebrated our five CD’s back at our old haunt – the Wilson Marriage Centre in Colchester. (We rehearsed there in the early days – 2006/7). The audience were treated to an extensive selection of pieces from our recordings, sung by the full choir and the two small groups.

Sunday 22nd May ~ Angel Band ~ Octavia and Towering Angels ~ Little Braxted Church, CM8 3EU
Octavia and Towering Angels, the two small groups within Quire, performed folk music from Scotland, Ireland and France with a few rural church songs from 19th century America and England  – in one of the smallest churches in Essex.

Friday 18th March ~ The Auld Alliance ~ All Saints Church, Brightlingsea, CO7 0RZ
The concert linked the two alliances – France and Scotland – and also linked two sung forms which link England with America – West Gallery and FASOLA.

Saturday 5th March ~ Octavia performed at the Nottage Institute, Wivenhoe  for International Women’s Day 
Octavia’s set  included songs that reflect the current situation in the Middle East with items from Syria and from Afghanistan.


Friday 11th December ~ Christmas Concert  ~ ‘Born in the Night’~Lion Walk Church, Colchester
Traditional carols, American gospel and spirituals, English songs from the West Gallery tradition, Czech carols and songs with African inspiration. The theme reflected the plight of Mary and her husband as they were driven from one village to another to escape persecution.  The highlight for many was the spiritual ‘Hold on’ where Quire excelled in the ‘big’ sound they can make in the church. Thrilling!

Friday 26th June ~ Kaleidoscope ~ St Teresa of Lisieux Church, Lexden, Colchester
Revisiting some songs we learnt when Quire was young (!) and some new songs too!

Friday 20th March ~ Revolution – the triumph of the human spirit ~ Lion Walk Church, Colchester

Saturday 16th May ~ Concert at St Mary’s Church, Hadleigh


Friday 5th December ~ The Passing Year ~ St Teresa of Lisieux Church, Lexden, Colchester
Quire with readers from St Teresa’s celebrated the Nativity in words and music from Europe and America. A country calendar of songs and poems.  In Spring we sang songs from America, Germany, France and Wales which greet the Spring… and the ‘full-throated daffodils’ poem of C Day Lewis. In Summer  we had a reading from Cider with Rosie, songs in Maori and Latin, a Cornish carol and that old Welsh favourite Calon Lan. In Autumn we began with Ted Hughes’ brilliant evocation Autumn; and songs from Germany and Devonshire. And finally, in Winter, there was a selection of U.A. Fanthorpe vignettes from her Christmas Collection, some rollicking English pub carols, the ubiquitous Stille Nacht and we end with Leon Roberts’ gospel version of  He shall be called Wonderful.
It was a veritable Christmas feast!

Friday 27th June  ~ Our 10th Anniversary Concert! ~ St Botolph’s Church, Colchester, CO2 7EE
Were you there? If not you missed a great evening! Quire started in 2004 as an adult education course. When the course was finished, the participants didn’t! Quire celebrated 10 years of concerts, broadcasts, services, recordings and more with performances by the full choir, solos, duets and the small groups – Octavia and Towering Angels.
The concert began with an African number from the first ‘official’ concert in Peldon in 2005 – Thula Sizwe . The African style caught on, quickly becoming a trademark of the group, and a year later Quire had made its first CD – and Aled Jones was on the line to ask about the ‘authentic’ African sound! Two African numbers were followed by music from around the world including Eastern Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Rim and every effort was made to sing in the native language of the song – Lacota Indian, Dutch and Mandarin Chinese to name but three. Current members were joined by former members of Quire  – with everyone standing for Nkosi sikelel i Africa, one of the first songs performed by Quire and our tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Thanks to all who came or took part ~ helping us celebrate 10 great years!


Saturday 10th May ~ London Sangerstevne ~ St Matthew’s Church, Ealing, London
For the second year, Quire took part in this international choral festival weekend, performing in concerts with choirs from across the south of England, Wales and Spain. The day included an impromptu performance from a group from Italy on Ealing Common and Quire listening to other arrangements of pieces from it’s repertoire. Visit the event website for further information.

Thursday 10th April ~ The Popular Tradition ~ Colchester Arts Centre
A celebration of love, drink and rebellion! For their second appearance at the Arts Centre in 2013, the two small groups, Octavia and Towering Angels, performed a programme as widely different from their last gig  as could be possible. Last year it was American music, this year it was European. Towering Angels‘ set featured drinking songs from Tudor England, the debauched café life of Restoration England (the ‘presentable ones!), the risqué songs of French mariners from the 20th century and a selection from Eastern Europe with a tough hard-edged sound. Octavia sang some of the Bulgarian songs but added some English traditional songs and ‘Yoiking’ songs from the far north of Lapland.

Friday 28th March ~ Justice & Peace~ Lion Walk Church, Colchester
The second concert  in our 10th anniversary year. Bill Tamblyn founded Quire partly to introduce to Colchester the invigorating music that marks the choral tradition in other countries – and in particular Bill was keen to reveal the wonders of the music of Africa, South America, North America and the Middle East. And not for the first time, his theme was Justice and Peace – a plea for us to listen to the uplifting songs of Liberation and Life from four continents.


Friday 6th December ~ On This Night ~ St Teresa of Lisieux Church, Lexden, Colchester
This concert included readings by members of St Teresa’s. The readings were selected  from the Coventry Mystery Plays to introduce the characters of the Shepherds (in part one) and the Kings (in part two). The music ranged from the medieval to the modern with audience carols to maintain the continuity of the seasonal theme.

Thursday 4th July ~ America and Independence ~ firstsite, Colchester
Quire sang on the lawns of Colchester’s centre for the visual arts, for an evening to remember.  Most American music styles were represented in a programme that evoked the first settlers from Europe, their discovery of the  music of the indigenous Lacota Indians, the arrival of the Afro-Americans  on the East coast,  the arrival of the Hispanics from south of the border, the emergence of Jazz and the current phenomenon that that moulds together  these influences into that international vocal music we recognise as Modern Gospel.

Saturday 11th May ~ London Sangerstevne ~ St Matthew’s Church, Ealing, London
Quire took part in this non-competitive, international choral festival weekend, performing alongside choirs from England, Belgium and Sardinia. Originating in Norway, a Sangerstevne literally means a ‘Congress of Singers’. Such festivals are major events in Scandinavia, where choirs from all over the country gather to exchange ideas of repertoire and sing to each other. Quire sang a selection of numbers from our repertoire of Hispanic – American music, African music and Gospel.

For further details visit

Thursday 4th April ~ Colchester to Carolina ~ Colchester Arts Centre
An evening of Work songs, Spirituals and Folk as interpreted today by Octavia and Towering Angels –two a cappella groups of 8 voices from Quire. For this concert, Bill Tamblyn researched various facets of the American music scene including the music of the Lacota Indians (including recent compositions by Lacota and Lacota-inspired composers) and the music of the American Prison Farms of the 1930s – the melting pot for American Blues, Spirituals and Bluegrass stored in the Library of Congress. Re-cast by Bill Tamblyn, the two groups presented familiar songs in their original forms – songs that found their way into the movies such as O Brother, Where Art Thou? and some great discoveries. Did you know that Rock Island Line was a spiritual long before Lonnie Donegan got hold of it in the 1950s?

Saturday 16th March ~ The New World: a song for Harwich ~ St Nicholas’s Church, Harwich
Quire explored the world music of welcome and departure, travel and settlement, joined by local Harwich group Essex Harmony led by Mick Verrier. The idea of the concert was to explore songs of travelers – soldiers, seafarers, slaves and free men, and inevitably discover the promised land at the end of that journey.

Thursday 14th February ~ ‘Northern Harmony’ Workshop ~ Lion Walk Church Hall, Colchester
This American group has provided us with much material in the past and it is two or three years since we were able to host a visit. These events are organised in the American way – a pot-luck supper, some singing from Quire, some singing from the visitors and a lot of fun! Larry Gordon’s group of 13 led us in four songs before performing for us. A wonderful evening ~ with several Quire members attending another workshop the following weekend.


Friday 7th December ~ ‘Advent Calendar’ ~ St Teresa of Lisieux Church, Lexden, CO3 9BE
The programme (very short readings which preface the songs) reflected the wonderful book by Jostein Gaarder (Sophie’s World)which he called The Christmas Mystery about the journey of a group of travellers who go back in time from the 21st century, and back geographically across Europe to the time of the Nativity in Palestine.

A selection of the programme can be seen on the Quire Colchester Youtube Channel

Saturday 20th October ~ ‘Oremi Jekajo! ~ Let’s Dance’ ~ part of Black History Month ~ St Leonard’s Church Hall, Lexden, This event reflected African culture, home life, faith, the freedom struggle, the tradition of choral singing and ended with a really fun sequence of songs.

Saturday 30th June ~ ‘Roots of Gospel’ ~ St Teresa of Lisieux Church, Lexden
The idea behind the concert was to trace gospel music from its beginnings in the music of the European settlers in America, through the music of various sects – representing black as well as white Christian singers – to the 20th century when major composers emerged and, of course, singers of world standing like Mahalia Jackson and Yolanda Adams.

Saturday 21st April – ‘Travelling the Road to Freedom’ – St Peter ad Vinicula Church, Coggeshall
Quire sang in aid of the Drummonds Centre in Feering in order to raise funds for a new audio-sensory room. The centre is run by Scope, a UK disability charity that supports disabled people and their families in England and Wales. The music selected took us on a journey around the world visiting the continents and countries represented by the International Staff at Drummonds in a programme of music that was entertaining, meaningful and fun. As well as the main Quire, the concert featured soloists, and smaller groups of members from Quire – Octavia and Towering Angels. Our pianist was once again the brilliant Daniel Law.


Saturday 17th December – ‘The Journey’ – St Botolph’s Church, Colchester
‘The Journey’ was devised by Bill Tamblyn. The text is based on factual accounts such as they are of the journey of two refugees from persecution, namely Mary and Joseph. The idea was to write a series of short prose-poems to set the scene as the travellers migrate south from the Jerusalem area to Egypt, to celebrate their joy as they return home, and to illustrate these scenes with some 21st century contemporary accounts and songs either newly composed or drawn from the World Music archives that Bill Tamblyn has collected over the years. To hear excerpts from the performance visit the QuireColchester channel on YouTube

Saturday 10th December – ‘Gaudete – celebrating the good news in music from Africa and America’ – Colchester Community Carol Concert – Lion Walk Church, Colchester
Quire performed a fundraising concert with the Colchester Citadel Salvation Army Band, providing Christmas music in Quire’s own style as well as carols to sing along with. Proceeds from the concert went to Lion Walk Church’s Christian Aid Project in Sierra Leone.

Saturday 12th November – ‘Make a Joyful Noise’ – Methodist Church, Broomfield, Chelmsford
Octavia and Towering Angels performed vibrant close harmony music from the Appalachians, Eastern Europe, Africa and America as part of the Broomfield Methodist Church Centenary Celebrations.

September 25th – Performance at the opening of the new Firstsite Visual Arts Facility, Colchester
Quire was one of four local music groups to be invited to perform at the opening of the new First Site building in September 2011 . The groups rehearsed and recorded new interpretation’s of each other’s pieces. The project was challenging: each group submitting one piece from their repertory, with the other three groups then creating an ‘interpretation’ of the piece in their own style. Quire submitted Gabi Gabi ( from Shout!) and had to interpret a medieval piece L’homme armé offered by Colchester Waites, a grunge piece  Take it all from Sanctorum, and a brass band march Colchester Castle from the Garrison marching band. What the groups made of each others pieces can be heard on a CD released and distributed in the Colchester area.

June 25th – Crossing the Jordan – St Leonard’s Church Hall, Lexden
Quire sang to a virtually full house at their end of term concert, resulting in a donationof £1,000 to the Truan Trust.  the concert featured music from many parts of Africa – including countries from the Commonwealth. There were Gospel songs from African Americans; Gospel from the Poor Whites of the Appalachians; and some contemporary Gospel too!

June 18th – Open Workshop – Slack Space, Colchester
A small but enthusiastic group of Quire members and interested others took part in a 2 hour workshop led by Bill Tamblyn. Pieces tackled included a selection from Quire’s repertoire as well as new songs, including an impromptu solo by a future tenor who reprised his role at the following concert.

April 30th – Truan Trust Concert – St Mary the Virgin Church, Peldon
The concert was in aid of the Truan Trust, a registered charity supporting education in Uganda. Along with Quire-Octavia and Quire-Towering Angels the concert featured No Strings Attached, a vocal duo set up by Quire member Gwendal Moële offering an intensely musical presentation of unaccompanied folk songs. The programme included Gospel, Soul, Medieval and Modern music.

April 17th – ‘King Jesus’ – South Woodham Ferrers Quire presented ‘King Jesus’ –  a dramatic presentation in words and music of the Gospel story devised by Professor Bill Tamblyn, Quire’s music director. The text was based on the novel ‘King Jesus’ by Robert Graves, written in 1946 and considered controversial at the time. The script was just 30 pages of a 400 page book and, rather than a service, it was a memorial to a brave and inspirational human being who the Christians believe was also divine. Spiritual and moving songs from around the world and some especially written for this event combined with rousing hymns for all to sing.


December 18th – Christmas Concert at St Botolph’s Church, Colchester Heavy snowfall meant both Quire and the audience were slightly depleated in numbers, but the show went on and a mixed programme of sea songs,  folk songs, traditional English Christmas music and readings were presented with Quire’s usual good humour and professional polish.

September 30th – Singing workshop at Slack Space, Colchester To celebrate the start of Colchester’s Black History Month, Quire held a singing workshop with a mixture of African songs and Gospel tunes.

September 5th – the Colchester Oyster Festival.

July 10th –  Singing workshop with Quire We had a very well-attended workshop at Slack Space Colchester!

July 3rd and 4th – The Bradwell Pilgrimage On Saturday July 3rd Quire was one of the groups escorting The Archbishop of York  from the village to the chapel. Bill had met John Sentamu before and featured music from East Afrika in his honour. On Sunday July 4th, Quire sang the afternoon service in the chapel.

June 19thThat’s the Spirit! The last gig of the academic year for Quire at St Botolph’s church, Colchester: a summer display of Quire’s most requested songs.  Intrepid choral explorations from Europe, Asia, Africa and New World…with a splash of ‘end-of-year’ fizz!

May 30th – Quire brings SOUL MUSIC to Peldon Colchester’s unique nationally recognised World Music Community Choir joined forces with professional classical cellist Orlando Jopling and pianist Daniel Law to present a very special End-of Festival concert for the Peldon May Festival in Peldon Church.  Using ‘soul’ in its widest sense to mean music that has passion and commitment, the programme was drawn from classical music and world music . The evening mixed Bach with Chicago Soul, exotic music from Venezuela with the strangely beautiful music of the Balkans, and so much more!

May 15th and 22nd – Quire CD recording Quire gathered in St Botolph’s Church for 2 days of recordings for a new CD. Sound Engineer Matthew Dilley was there to work his magic and we hope that the new album will be ready in time for Christmas 2010. The programme is a miscellany (like Pilgrim) featuring songs from  Europe, America,  New Zealand, Africa, English and American Gospel, and will also feature the two smaller groups from Quire – Towering Angels and Octavia.

May 3rdEssex Global Gala in Central Park Chelmsford. There were 7 cultural tents and Quire was  in one of them doing  an hour long African programme.  You can look up more details on

March 26th – Just a Steppe away! The Officers Club, Colchester was the venue for an exciting journey to Western & Eastern Europe in song ! From Wales to Poland and Spain to Russia with an extra special celebration of great ‘craic’ –  Irish Music – a nod to St Patrick’s Day. Over 70 guests joined us for an informal evening of prepared pieces and spontaneous song.