A choir of the community
The Highcliffe Youth Choir started out as a community choir in 1968. Despite its many successes and appearances at prestigious venues up and down the country and abroad, HYC remains essentially a choir that serves its local community first and foremost. The choir still rehearses at the same junior school where Mary Denniss was the Music Teacher nearly half a century ago and from which it derived its name for many years.
Although using the premises, the choir has long been independent of the school for its organisation and is run as a small charity, relying on donations and choir subscriptions for its continuance. The choir aims to provide opportunities for any child who wants to learn to sing as part of a group and maybe go on to have individual tuition in addition to singing in the full choir. Because one of the principal aims of the choir is to make music as accessible as possible to as many children as possible there is no entry audition and previous singing experience is not necessary. The choir will support enthusiastic commitment and help to develop musical talent.
In its 48 years of operation the choir has brought pleasure to thousands of residents in Highcliffe and surrounding towns. It has competed in music competitions ranging from small local village fêtes to the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen, to which it travels every year. Over the years the choir has been providing musical education and fun to countless children and young people. Because of their own pleasure at being part of such an energetic and vibrant group, many of these young people have gone on to become parents and to have their own children in the choir. It can be truly said that the Highcliffe Youth Choir is like an extended family.
Highcliffe is often seen as a town for older people, but the longevity of the Highcliffe Choirs shows that the town enjoys and supports an organisation that focuses on the youth of the town. While only children under 18 can join the choir, adults can join as friends of the choir. The 100 club was set up a number of years ago to give friends of the choir a chance to get together and to hear the choir in concert, just prior to their departure for the International Eisteddfod. The 100 Club annual summer concert helps to generate funds for the trip, particularly the cost of the coach to Llangollen.
The Highcliffe Youth Choir must be one of the only choirs in the country to have had its name prominently featured on the town’s signs following its success in winning the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year award in 1996. There is also a large commemorative painting situated in a village hall in Wales, depicting the history of the village and many of its more notable characters and traditions. At one corner of this very large painting is the inclusion of a children’s choir from England, a mark of affection from the village of Kerry for the many years of association with the Highcliffe Choirs. The Highcliffe Youth Choir is a choir that generates goodwill wherever it goes. It is a choir that continues to be a source of pride for its local community and it has touched the hearts of a multitude of people far and wide.