Terry Steele who is to retire as conductor of the Ashdown Singers is pictured with his wife Kirsty.

Uckfield conductor hands over the baton

Uckfield musician Terry Steele is to retire from The Ashdown Singers after 40 years of music making in Sussex and Kent.

The occasion will be marked at a concert next month which will also be a celebration of music with royal connections in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday.

It will be held on June 11 at St Philip’s Church, in Uckfield.

Coronation anthem

The concert will open with the coronation anthem ‘I was glad’ by Hubert Parry, sung at every coronation since the one for Edward VII in 1902.

A madrigal by Weelkes, which was written in tribute to Queen Elizabeth I, will also be included and the concert will end with Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’, accompanied by the professional players of The Wealden Chamber Orchestra.

Terry and his wife Kirsty have been associated with music in the area since they moved to Uckfield in 1976.

Holy Cross Church organist

They were both on the music staff at Priory School in Lewes and also worked for East Sussex Music Service. Terry was Organist at Holy Cross Church in Uckfield in the late 1970s.

The couple have also appeared regularly as a husband and wife duo for recorder and harpsichord.

The Ashdown Singers were formed in 1976. Members were auditioned with the aim of forming a choir large enough to sing established choral works with an orchestra, but small enough to sing church music liturgically and to perform madrigals and part-songs in an intimate and authentic manner.

Charitable ethos

There is also a strong charitable ethos to the choir’s work, and over the years many thousands of pounds has been raised for good causes.

The choir have given over two hundred concerts, in venues as different as Arundel Cathedral and lonely churches on Romney Marsh (where despite the rural location, the church was filled with an enthusiastic audience). Equally celebrated are Christmas evenings raising the roof at The Alma public house in Uckfield.

The future of the choir is in safe hands; experienced musician Richard Walshaw will be taking over the reins in September, and the choir look forward to many more years of making music for the pleasure of themselves and their wide audiences.

More information about the concert on June 11 is available from the website: ashdownsingers.org.uk.

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