Choir counts down to prom spectacular

Roger Wilcock (front right) with The Hastings Big Choir
Roger Wilcock (front right) with The Hastings Big Choir

A 150-STRONG amateur choir is ready to take to the stage and once again wow the crowds at Hastings’s popular proms in the park.

For the second year running, in the space of just eight weeks, Roger Wilcock has trained up The Hastings Big Choir ready for a star turn at The Battle of Hastings Proms on Thursday. And this year Mr Wilcock will see whether his mission to get the town’s men singing has borne fruit when his new male voice choir take on the anthemic Nessun Dorma - made famous during the 1990 World Cup - in front of the capacity crowds expected in Alexandra Park.

“I found the men of Hastings very willing but they did not have a lot of experience so I was starting from scratch with most of them,” Mr Wilcock told the Observer at the choir’s penultimate rehearsal this week. “I had no idea if they would be capable of Nessun Dorma but I have got them singing harmonies with confidence now. Hearing them sing is very special - it really makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

Dean Lennard, 48, is one of the choir’s new recruits after being inspired by his brother who took part last year. “I have never done anything like this before,” he said, “but we went and watched my brother sing last year and it was fantastic. I liked the idea of the male voice choir and having a crack at Nessun Dorma - it’s a smashing piece of music.

“I have really enjoyed it - there’s so much to learn but it’s great fun and I am looking forward to being a part of it on Thursday. It’s going to be a really good night so people should definitely come along to have a look.”

Mr Wilcock estimates about half of last year’s singers have come back for a second time. “The purpose of the project was to give as many people as possible the chance to sing in a choir and we have definitely achieved that.

“I am still putting the pressure on them and it is quite terrifying for me because things won’t all come together until the day.

“My aim is to have the choir singing something beautiful, something moving, something exciting and something fun. If we do all that at the prom then we will definitely top last year.”

And would he do it all over again in 2012?

“It’s up to the Round Table but if we are invited back I will dream up something bigger and better - don’t you worry about that.”

The Battle of Hastings Proms takes place this Thursday, with the gates opening at 6pm. Tickets are £15 in advance or £20 on the gate, available via or from the information centre in the town hall.