This piece was submitted for entry in the Surrey Advertiser by the In your Area Community News publication.
Singing its praises, Deputy Lieutenant Perdita Hunt OBE, presented the certificate marking the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey’s award to Sam Hayes, the music director of Godalming Choral Society at its rehearsal on Tuesday, September 21.
Led by Sam and accompanied by Suzy Ruffles, the choir held online rehearsals and Zoom parties every week, enabling people to sing through lockdown, including those who were housebound or frail. They have recorded pieces for their website and in July this year held an outdoor concert at the bandstand in the town.
During the ceremony, Perdita Hunt OBE, said: “Godalming Choral Society has shown tenacity, love and courage throughout the pandemic. The conductor, Sam Hayes, has, every week, gallantly engaged the choir in warm up exercises and rehearsing various pieces through Zoom from his unheated shed in the garden.
“Given that he could not hear us sing, he oozed such enthusiasm and provided such energy to those of us who might feel isolated or lonely.
“Suzie Ruffles, the accompanist, prepared and recorded the accompaniment for many of the pieces and added huge interest and entertainment by always appearing on zoom in front of a fascinating aquarium of fish. The fish became a major feature of the choir’s reunion.”
Perdita added: “The Trustees have shown fantastic support in arranging special events and a re-opening celebration in September. Archie Kostenko has been invaluable in providing the platform for the rehearsals. He has also helped with the software for membership and accounts.
“Through this weekly connection, Godalming Choral Society has provided a link with the outside world, a bit of laughter and a good excuse to sing in the kitchen, shower, garden or wherever.”
Music director Sam Hayes, said: “This is a huge honour for the choir and we are so grateful to the lieutenancy for its recognition and support. We are very much a part of the Godalming community and we work to bring the joy of choral singing into the town. The choir will treasure this certificate.”
The choir is now back to more conventional rehearsals at the Wilfrid Noyce Centre and is welcoming new singers. In addition, the choir has a concert lined up of music by the old rivals, Mozart and Salieri, on October 30 at St John’s church in Farncombe.