Choir’s 34 performances provide musical accompaniment to historic churches Ride and Stride

Fred Green on the Suffolk churches Ride and Stride 2017. Picture: NIGE BROWN

Fred Green on the Suffolk churches Ride and Stride 2017. Picture: NIGE BROWN - Credit: Archant

A gang of roving choristers were among cyclists and walkers taking part in this year’s fundraising tour of historic Suffolk churches.

The annual sponsored Ride and Stride returned to raise money for more than 700 church buildings across the county.

Well timed visits were accompanied by the sounds of Colchester Chamber Choir – performing at 34 venues in one day.

The ‘Choral Steeplechase’ route began in Ipswich, stopping off at Hintlesham, Hadleigh, Boxford, Newton Green and Sudbury, before concluding in Bures.

Choir director, Roderick Earle said members were tired but elated by the end of the tour, which finished with a performance at the village’s chapel of St Stephen.

As well as 33 churches, the choir managed to perform on the roof of Ipswich’s Willis Building – accessible to the public for Heritage Open Days.

Their sheet music got drenched in a downpour at Sudbury – but the choir marched on, with a repertoire of short unaccompanied work, including American hymns from an upcoming programme to be performed in Colchester’s Moot Hall the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

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Proceeds from the steeplechase, which began in 2014, will be divided between the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and the choir’s Choral Apprenticeship scheme for young singers, as well as helping to fund young players for forthcoming programmes.

Mr Earle said: “One church had a wedding when we arrived, and another was about to start a service, but we stuck to our itinerary pretty well.

“We started with about 20 members and ended with about 14. One of our members had broken her foot, but still came round on crutches until lunchtime.

“Lots of people gave money along the way. It would be great if we could raise £3,000 after we’ve collected sponsorship money.”

Mr Earle said All Saints Church, in Newton Green, provided such “amazing acoustics” that the choir would like to use the building for a future recording.

The Choral Steeplechasers’ route included 14 Ipswich church buildings; four in Hadleigh and eight in Sudbury.

The annual Ride and Stride began in Suffolk but has now spread across England.

You can still sponsor the Choral Steeplechase here.

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