In 1993 89 members of Ditchling Choral Society visited Vienna, to give a concert in the Minoritenkirche together with the Erste Frauen-Kammerorchester von Österreich. Our contact with the orchestra came about through our conductor, Janet Canetty-Clarke. At this time, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra had no lady members and so a professional orchestra was formed that consisted of excellent lady instrumentalists. Janet was invited to conduct them in Vienna and so a link was forged with the orchestra. A total of 119 people took part in this visit, many staying in Vienna for a week.
This first visit was followed by a second visit in 1997, when 32 members of the group went first to Prague for three nights before joining other members of the choir in Vienna for a concert with the orchestra. In 2000 choir members made a third visit to sing in Vienna and a further visit is planned for November 2011 when the choir (now Sussex Chorus) will be giving an Advent concert, again in the Minoritenkirche and with the same orchestra. The choir has also performed with the orchestra in Sussex, in Worth Abbey Church, St. Bartholomew’s Church, and Brighton and in the Music Room in the Royal Pavilion.
Three visits have been made to Cyprus where the choir has sung in concerts in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, together with army bands. These concerts have taken place in two huge open-air venues, one was the spectacular Kourion’s theatre, overlooking the sea – built by the Romans and still in use today and. On one occasion five members of the group enjoyed a ‘mini cruise from Cyprus to Egypt and then went by coach to Cairo.
A visit that will long be remembered was the visit to sing in Estonia in 2007. Here choir members gave concerts in both Tallinn and the university town of Tartu. The majority of the group then travelled to St. Petersburg for four nights before returning back to Tallinn and then home again.
In 2008 a visit was made to sing in Bruges where the choir gave one concert and also sang at a Mass the following day. During this visit the majority of the singers visited several of the cemeteries where so many soldiers who were killed in the 1st World War are buried. We also visited a couple of German cemeteries as well.
An interesting visit was made to Berlin in December 2009 where we joined forces with a choir at Frohnau to give a Christmas concert in the Ev. Johann Eskirche.
Visits of this sort have always been enjoyable and give choir members the opportunity to socialise.