Previous events

Ruth conducting

Chorus of Dissent, Stoke Newington’s community choir

Previous events


Friday 14-Sunday 16 July, Clare Priory and the Bell Inn – Singing in Suffolk

Featuring featuring Messiaen, meditation and medieval buildings, plus Africa and Amy

Sunday 18 June, 2.30pm, Midsummer Music at Dissenters’ Chapel, Abney Park

Do come along to support a section of CoD taking Tempt Me No More back to Abney chapel, plus other Abney-related music. Bring your friends – it’s free! A delightfully short concert, and part of the Great Get Together weekend in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.

In fact, we’re delighted to report that we passed the hat round after the event and raised £450 from the generous crowd for the Jo Cox Foundation.

Saturday 3 June, 5.30pm, St Matthias Church – as part of Stokey Litfest

Our amazing 5th anniversary season continues with a concert of music about love, perfect for a summer’s evening, which includes the world premiere of a wonderful new work Tempt Me No More written especially for us by composer and vocalist Clara Sanabras, and starring Clara Sanabras. We will also be singing Mascagni, and excerpts from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Bernstein’s brilliant West Side Story will be framed by orchestral fireworks from the Elastic Band. We will include some gorgeous a capella by Vaughan Williams. Conducted by Ruth Whitehead and John Sloboda

Another delightfully short concert and, as usual, a surprise….

Sunday 14 May, 5pm, St Matthias Patronal Festival

It’s time to sing for our suppers again, and support Father David and the congregation of St Matthias in their yearly festival celebrating the Feast of St Matthias the Apostle. Our presence is hugely appreciated, and it’s the least we can do in return for free use of the church all year.

John Sloboda will be conducting the Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s Cavalliera Rusticana, and we’ll be singing several hymns including Old Hundredth and Jerusalem.  We will also reprise the Easter Hymn at the LitFest.

Do put on your Sunday best and join in the church’s celebration day, including their outdoor fair.

Saturday 8 April, 5.30pm, St Matthias Church – JS Bach: St John Passion

A very 21st century take on this 18th century towering masterpiece. Chorus of Dissent goes again where no choir has gone before, with a semi-staged version of Bach’s dramatic setting of the Easter story, featuring members of the congregation of St Matthias and supported, as always, by our own Elastic Band. Streamlined, edited and, yes, shortened for today’s audience.

Bach himself always mixed old and new, and tailored his performances to his audience, expecting them actively to take part. Sounds just like a typical Dissenters’ concert, doesn’t it?

This very special performance of one of the very best pieces of music ever written heralds the beginning of Dissenters’ very wonderful fifth anniversary season. Directed by Ruth Whitehead.


Sunday 18 December, 5.30pm, St Matthias Church – Christmas by Candlelight1029_rwa_christmas_web

Our festive feast of traditional to modern music for two choirs, two conductors, orchestra and audience. Come and raise the roof with us!

With special guests – some seasonal reindeer.

All faiths and none welcome at our delightfully short concert, followed by refreshments

Conducted by Ruth Whitehead and Harvey Brough

Free entry – but you have to pay to get out. Donations to our chosen charities gratefully accepted

Saturday 15 October DOUBLE BILL! 5.30pm, Stoke Newington Town Hall, N16 0JR: Music without Borders

“Thank you so very much for the fundraising events for Hackney Migrant Centre and Akwaaba. £8,000 is an enormous amount of money to raise from two events and we’re delighted to be receiving £4,000. This will go a very long way in supporting the work we do with vulnerable migrants. Please pass on our profound thanks to everyone involved in the concert.” Daf Viney, Hackney Migrant Centre

Chorus of Dissent’s season finale gala concert is in aid of the wonderful Hackney Migrant Centre and Akwaaba, its social offshoot, at our local people’s palace.1002_rwa_mwb_web

Music is, and always will be, a Schengen area. We will use the universal language of music to cross continents, cultures and centuries, and celebrate our connections.

We set sail on our musical journey in 17th Century Peru, cross to England, and then fast forward to the 20th and 21st Centuries for a return trip to South America via Argentina.

This second stage will showcase two contrasting works by the exceptionally versatile Cecilia McDowall. We’ll be performing her quietly contemplative Ave Maris Stella, celebrating the history of this island race, and her vibrant and thrilling Theatre of Tango, based on Argentinian tango, with solo tango violin from David Juritz. We will be honoured to have Cecilia with us in the audience.

And, while Chorus of Dissent and the Elastic Band swing into two of Piazzolla’s Argentinian tangos, Rojo y Negro will treat us to a short but dazzling display of the dance itself.

To follow, a travelogue of beautiful choral music from mainland Europe, returning finally to the UK for a Dissenting take on a piece by Elgar for choir, orchestra and audience.

Come and listen to wonderful sounds to drown out Brexit racist rhetoric, and support this very worthy cause. Bring your favourite flag to wave at the end.

And 7.30pm, St Matthias Church Hall, Wordsworth Road, N16 8DD: Post-concert Cabaret Party

Drink, dine and be dazzled by the quick wit and quirky humour of the UK’s most popular poet comedian John Hegley – and sing with Chorus of Dissent – in DissentersN16’s double bill Music Without Borders evening. Delicious Syrian supper from pop up Daffodil Soup chef Linda Galloway. Tickets £15

It’s all part of DissentersN16’s fundraising for Hackney Migrant Centre and its social offshoot Akwaaba who are both making the world on our doorstep a better place.

Fri 15 – Sunday 17 July, Singing in Suffolk – a musical (re)treat singing to and for each other based at the ancient and beautiful Clare Priory

Plans are now in place for our singing weekend at Clare Priory. Supper for 27 is at 6.30pm on Friday and we’re looking forward to a diverse programme of activities, including a capella feminist socialist part songs, workshops on listening and breathing and meditation sessions. There will be singing different styles in large and small groups, and plenty of time for walking in the beautiful countryside, making music or just relaxing. We will share the results of our activities after lunch before heading for home on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday 4 June 5.30pm, Music and Poetry Mix at Stoke Newington Stokey-Litfest-web-A4Literary Festival, St Matthias Church

Proud to be part of the illustrious and brilliant Stokey Litfest, we present another delightfully short concert featuring two great anthems of personal and sexual freedom, by Vaughan Williams and the Pet Shop Boys, with Philip Glass’s Three Songs for Chorus as an alternative sound from the 1980s. Conducted by Ruth Whitehead.

Sunday 8th May 5pm, St Matthias Patronal Festival

Singing Handel Zadok the Priest, Jerusalem and Old Hundredth. Plus hymns and responses.


Saturday 23 April, 5.30pm, St Matthias Church:  Shakespeare and St George, a celebration of all things English

Come and hear the breadth of English music, from the 16th to 21st centuries, from madrigals to anthems and featuring composers including Benjamin Britten, Charles Parry, John Bennet and Cecilia McDowall – and, of course, a surprise…

Programme: Parry I Was Glad, McDowall Ave Maris Stella, Bennet Weep, O Mine Eyes, Walton music from Henry V, Britten Soirees Musicales, Parry Jerusalem (for choirs, orchestra AND audience)

Sunday 6 March, 6pm:  Barbican – performing at the album launch of Clara Sanabras’ A Hum About Mine Ears with Vox Holloway & The Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Harvey Brough

From its grass roots in Stokey to a world stage, Clara Sanabras’ folk opera A Hum About Mine Ears was commissioned by Ruth Whitehead, conducted by her at its world premiere at St Mary’s Old Church in 2014, was part of Stokey Litfest at St Matthias Church in 2015, has now been professionally recorded by us, and will now soar in front of a Barbican audience.

As part of Ruth’s remit to support women composers, she describes it as ‘a joyous privilege’ to have commissioned and conducted Hum. We are especially excited to be singing it again with Clara, this time at the Barbican.

Read all about it in The Guardian

Our community arts organisation goes global at the Barbican

CDs available for £12 from

Play this for a taster….


Thursday 17 December 7.30pm onwards, upstairs at The Prince, Nevill Road: Hum CD – Private Preview

Upstairs at the Prince; a glass of fizz awaits you. This is an extra special Christmas party; do get there if you can.

Sunday 20 December 5.30pm St Matthias Church: Christmas by Candlelight0953_RWA_Christmas_web

A festive musical feast for two choirs, two conductors, orchestra and audience. Come and raise the roof with us!
With special guests – a virginals and the man himself, Father Christmas (but only if you sing well enough; he’s very busy)
All faiths and none welcome at our delightfully short concert, followed by refreshments

Conducted by Ruth Whitehead and Harvey Brough

Thurs 29th October-Sun 1st November, L’Abbaye St Michel, Gaillac:  Tour De France

We and the Elastic Band fly out to Gaillac near Toulouse to work with the town’s own community choir Ensemble Vocale Vallée du Tarn, with whom we’ll be performing in the 10th Century Albigensian abbey on the banks of the river Tarn. As well as delicious dinners and tasting the wines, there will be plenty of time for exploring the town and beautiful scenery. You are welcome to bring non-singing members of your family and friends along too.

Saturday 10th October, Stoke Newington Town Hall, 5.30pm:   Magnificent Mozart

Our concert is a celebration of one of the greatest of all composers who produced so much in such a tragically short life. The programme will include movements from the Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments, and the iconic Requiem. We’re thrilled to be collaborating for the first time with the rather good Salomon Orchestra. We shall also be joined by our inspirational community youth choir Young Dissenters (conducted by Harvey Brough) making their debut at the town hall. And a surprise. Of course.

Saturday & Sunday July 11 & 12 professional recording of A Hum About Mine Ears with Clara Sanabras, the Britten Sinfonia and London Voices

Saturday July 11: 11am-1pm & 2pm-5pm rehearsal at St Matthias with professional choir London Voices.

Sunday July 12: recording at British Grove Studios 20 British Grove, London W4 2NL 020 8741 8941

Saturday 27th June, 6.30pm, St Augustine’s Church N5:  Chorus Of Dissent in Cabaret, with dinner

A night to celebrate the cornucopia of talent that is our choir, with a star-studded series of solos and small ensembles. Kurt Weill, Cole Porter and Walton guaranteed. The whole event will be centred around a fine four-course banquet provided by London’s premier pop-up feast specialists Pestle and Mortar. The bar features specially selected wines to complement the banquet, and all profits go to the charity CARIS Islington, which runs cold weather shelters for homeless guests in a network of local churches, including St Augustines.

Saturday 6th June 5.30pm, St Matthias Church: Clara Sanabras in Concert

After going down a storm at Stokey Litfest in 2014, they have invited us back again. We are absolutely thrilled to announce another collaboration with the staggeringly talented composer and singer Clara Sanabras.  We will be performing songs from her latest album El Vol Dispers – Songs of Spanish Exile, as well as a reprise of A Hum About Mine Ears.  We will be delighted to welcome everyone for our second performance in our new home at the beautiful Grade I listed St Matthias Church in Wordsworth Road, with its incredible acoustic.
Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine
Sanabras: A Hum About Mine Ears (incl a new movement)
Sanabras: El Vol Dispers – Songs of Spanish Exile
All music provided.

This concert is a prelude to our most exciting event, the professional recording of ‘A Hum’ on July 11 & 12 with the marvellous Britten Sinfonia and London Voices. This major event is both scary and incredibly exciting. Not only are we lucky enough to be performing Clara’s work but the wider audience she deserves is of special importance to us. Harvey Brough will be conducting ‘Hum’ and ‘El Vol Dispers’ in preparation for the recording. Ruth Whitehead will conduct Fauré.

Sunday 17 May 2015 5pm: St Matthias’ Patronal Festival

We are honoured to be the church choir in the patronal festival celebrating St Matthias, singing hymns and plainsong together with the congregation. The church is holding a barbeque and fete beforehand and there will be a small Elastic Band ensemble playing at 3pm.

Saturday 18th April St Matthias Church N16, 5.30pm: The French Connection with Young Dissenters

Following the resounding success of our our Taster Day feast, please confirm your availability for the next slice of excitement as we make our debut at our new home, St Matthias church. This grade 1 listed gem and the surrounding area deserve our focused attention. We’re shifting away from Church Street to boldly go where no choir has gone before (at least not for many years). We will also welcome Young Dissenters, in their first public performance written especially for them and directed by the brilliant Harvey Brough.

Rossini – Petite Messe Solennelle (Kyrie, Cum Sancto Spiritu and Agnus Dei only) ( Ricordi)
Vaughan Williams – Serenade To Music (OUP)
Lauridsen – Chansons Des Roses (Faber) to be conducted by John Sloboda.
You’ll need to provide your own copy of the three pieces listed above. Desired editions in brackets.
The music for the following three pieces will be provided:
Brough – Bells of Ys (with Young Dissenters)
I Am The Walrus – Lennon-McCartney arr. Whitehead
Old Hundredth – arr. Vaughan Williams

Saturday 21st February Shoreditch:  Songs From A Shoreditch Kitchen

At last, 2015’s hottest ticket is on sale. We bring you Songs From A Shoreditch Kitchen, a repeat of last year’s highly successful Taster Day. Based at Pestle and Mortar’s commercial kitchen, we’ll be coming together for a vocal technique session run by Mark Oldfield, and sampling a smorgasbord of enticing musical extracts from our forthcoming season, presented by Ruth Whitehead and John Sloboda. And, as we sing, a delicious three course gourmet lunch is being prepared for us. Places are limited, so stop drooling and click the link on the email you’ve received to purchase a place. The tickets will be gobbled up in no time.

No.6 the Huntingdon Estate, on Ebor Street (off Bethnal Green Road), E1 6AW. Look for the black pedestrian gate in the brown brick building next to the parking lot. Tel: 0207 739 0426

10.30am coffee and a warm welcome
11-1 sessions
1-2.30 lunch – bring your own drinks
2.30-4.30 sessions 

Ticket cost is the bargain price of £40 each, including £1 online booking fee. All music will be provided, but don’t forget to bring your own drinks. We look forward to welcoming Chorus members old and new to the friendliest – and greediest – choir in London!


Wassail Weekend 13 December 2014

We will cut a Dissenting swathe through Stoke Newington, singing traditional carols peppered with ironic and populist festive music.
Sat 13 Dec

2pm performance outdoors but under cover at Abney Park Cemetery (High St entrance)
3.30pm performance at Stokey Town Hall Christmas Fair.

14 November –  album launch of Clara Sanabras’ Songs of Spanish Exile

Heath Street Baptist Church, 84 Heath Street, London NW3 1DN
Directed by Harvey Brough, we shall be singing with other north London choirs Vox Holloway and Heath Street Choir to launch Sanabras’ sublime album, in aid of Iraq Emergency Appeal UNHCR.  Special guests include Attab Haddad – oud,  Ant Romero – percussion, string quartet led by Peter Hanson and contributors Emily Gray and Ewan King.

11 October – Season Finale: Peace Not War

Stoke Newington Town HallPeace not War poster
We take over the iconic venue of the Town Hall for the first time in our own right, with a very special event. In this concert, we focus on peace and the celebration of life rather than war and death, as many others have already marked the centenary of the start of World War I.

Another significant date this year is the 25th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Those old enough to have seen the news coverage will never forget the images of divided families finally able to hug each other, and East and West Germans united in tearing the Wall down brick by brick. We’ll be performing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the 9th Symphony, because Bernstein conducted it in Berlin on Christmas Day 1989, as part of the worldwide celebrations. It was the first time for many years that East and West German, Russian, British and Jewish musicians had the opportunity to make music together. At that concert the choir sang ‘Freiheit’ (Freedom) instead of ‘Freude’ (Joy), and we will do the same.

Beethoven 9 is a thrilling, exuberant celebration of life; all the more powerful because it was written by a tired old man who couldn’t hear it.

To celebrate brother(and sister)hood – and because Ode to Joy requires at least 60 voices -we’re inviting singers from other local choirs to join us. There are 77 of you on the mailing list and we’re sure you will want to be part of this very special occasion PLUS bringing along your friends from other choirs. As always we perform with our very own professional orchestra, the amazing Elastic Band.

The programme will  also include 2 movements only of Jenkins’ Armed Man, Mass for Peace (Sanctus and Benedictus), Tavener Song For Athene and one of our unique original arrangements. And a surprise, of course. Music supplied for all of that, or downloadable. We won’t be supplying vocal scores for the Beethoven, so people need to bring their own. We’ll sing it in German. Barenreiter urtext edition preferred but not mandatory.

21 June Shakespeare Solstice – music for Midsummer’s Eve

St Mary’s Old Church
A hum About Mine Ears posterA Hum About Mine Ears – Clara Sanabras
By overwhelming public demand we are performing a reprise of our own world-premiere piece specially commissioned for Chorus of Dissent by internationally-acclaimed singer and composer Clara Sanabras.

A Hum About Mine Ears is a spellbinding setting of speeches and themes from Shakespeare’s Tempest. We complement that with other Shakespeare settings by Tavener, Vaughan Williams and Mendelssohn. Yes, we will perform music from Midsummer Night’s Dream on Midsummer Night.

The choir will as usual be conducted by Ruth Whitehead, and will feature our own professional orchestra The Elastic Band.

Fresh from touring Germany as a soloist with the Lord of the Rings in Concert, Clara Sanabras’ gypsy blood, Catalan background and classical music training enable her to create crossgenre music in a unique and innovative way.
Visit Clara Sanabras’ website
Download A Hum About Mine Ears 21 June poster [PDF]

7 June – Musicfest at the Litfest: Music inspired by Shakespeare

Stoke Newington Town HallStoke Newington Literary Festival logo
We are delighted to be invited to take part in the illustrious and nationally famous Stoke Newington Literary Festival and in honour of his 450th birthday will be performing music to celebrate Shakespeare.

We are joining up with our professional orchestra The Elastic Band to perform a programme that will include Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, John Tavener’s Song For Athene, and Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Midsummer Night’s Dream, plus one or two surprise numbers.
As ever with Dissenters, expect the unexpected….

This will be our debut concert at Stoke Newington Town Hall and all friends and supporters are especially welcome.
Visit the Stokey Litfest website

3 May – A Hum About Mine Ears, Clara Sanabras

St Mary’s Old Churcha hum about mine ears poster
The world-premiere of a piece specially commissioned for Chorus of Dissent on the theme of exile, featuring the unusual combination of a female composer/soloist and female conductor.

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with internationally-acclaimed singer and composer Clara Sanabras who has written a spellbinding setting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest especially for us. The choir will as usual be conducted by Ruth Whitehead.

Fresh from touring Germany as a soloist with the Lord of the Rings in Concert, Clara Sanabras’ gypsy blood, Catalan background and classical music training enable her to create crossgenre music in a unique and innovative way.

The rest of the programme includes other songs of exile in the form of excerpts from Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Verdi’s Nabucco.

Proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support in memoriam John Dervan, founder member of Chorus of Dissent.
Download A Hum About Mine Ears concert poster
Visit Clara Sanabras’ website


12 October – Music is for Everyone

St Mary’s Old Churchmusic-is-for-everyone-concert-poster
It’s our Tudor church’s 450th birthday, so we’re performing music (probably) written by Henry VIII, and (definitely) by Byrd, Vaughan Williams, and that prolific composer, Anon. We’re also acknowledging the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth with his setting of Christopher Smart’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’. Forget TS Eliot and Lloyd Webber, this work contains THE definitive song about a cat.
St Mary’s last major relaunch was after being bombed in 1940s and we’re marking that with Gershwin music from that period – raising the roof with excerpts from ‘Porgy and Bess’. Audience participation obligatory.
Music is for Everyone concert poster [pdf]


22 June – Midsummer Music

Abney Public Hall
Chorus of Dissent proudly presents a Midsummer feast – Bernstein’s West Side Story and Chichester Psalms, and the Elastic Band’s electrifying realisation of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. This concert has it all – star-crossed lovers, the 23rd Psalm, and universal themes of conflict and passion. Featuring mezzo-soprano Katharine Schopflin, soprano Lucy Myers and tenor Rich Mead. Proceeds to and Abney Park Cemetery.
Midsummer Music concert poster [pdf]

27 April – Happy Birthday Mary Wollstonecraft – St Mary’s Church N16

happy-birthday-mary-wollstonecraft-concert-posterA delightfully short concert from Stoke Newington’s very own choir and professional orchestra, The Elastic Band, celebrating the 254th birthday of the author of The Vindication of the Rights of Women with music performed in London during her lifetime. Excerpts from Handel’s Messiah juxtaposed with Haydn’s Creation and Ravel’s Pavanne pour une Infante Défunte. Plus novelist Elizabeth Woodcraft on Mary’s significance and her legacy for modern feminism. All proceeds to
Happy Birthday Mary Wollstonecraft concert poster [pdf]

9 February – Chorus of Dissent & the Elastic Band

Another delightfully short concert featuring two Dissenting Vivaldi concertos with soloists Sue Eversden and Frances Taylor, and Bach Cantata 140 ‘Sleepers Wake’ featuring soloists Lucy Myers and Maurice Wren. As always we present world class music in our inimitable and inclusive Dissenting style.


bizet-carmen-suites-poster6 October – Frenchfest of Faure and Bizet

St Mary’s Church N16
World première of our very own professional orchestra, the Elastic Band – together we’ll be performing Fauré’s Requiem and Bizet’s Carmen suites.
Frenchfest of Faure and Bizet poster [pdf]

23 June – The Chorus of Dissent: a choir is born

St Mary’s Old Church
Popularly believed to be Stoke Newington’s first community choir open to all, Chorus of Dissent – the brainchild of local businesswoman financial advisor Ruth Whitehead – launches its career with Faure’s Requiem, plus Ruth’s own arrangement of Freddie Mercury’s “Somebody to love”. All proceeds to the campaign to convert St Mary’s Old Church into a versatile arts space for the people of Stoke Newington.

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