Thanet Big Sing Community Choir

The Thanet Big Sing Community Choir has been the gallery’s resident choir since 2011.

In early 2011, an Open Call went out for 100 singers from any musical background to come together to form a choir to sing an exciting and challenging piece of new music to celebrate the opening of Turner Contemporary, Margate.

Composed by Orlando GoughThe Red Volcano, was inspired by JMW Turner’s poem of the same name and his painting of the volcanic eruption on the Caribbean Island of St Vincent in 1812.

Under the expert guidance of music director, Tony Castro, ‘The Big Sing’ performed The Red Volcano accompanied by a local orchestra for the opening of Turner Contemporary Gallery on the 17th of April 2011.

Following the success of this performance the singers established themselves as a formally constituted choir and the relationship between Turner Contemporary and the Thanet Big Sing Community Choir has continued to this day.

This collaboration has been an inspiring, enduring and significant fellowship between a local community organisation and a local landmark creative facility. As far as is known, it is the only such relationship between a choir and a major art gallery in the country

Gillian Vass, ‘Thanet Big Sing’

The Thanet Big Sing is an inclusive choir, open to ages 18 years and over and welcome all new members.

No audition is necessary, choir members are not required to read music or indeed have any choral or musical experience at all and potential new members are offered a free-of-charge ‘taster’ rehearsal.

The Big Sing performs a variety of music at various events throughout the year including supporting our exhibition launches and seasonal celebrations together with concerts at other venues locally and further afield.

The Thanet Big Sing Community Choir is well known for being a friendly and supportive choir and a warm welcome awaits.

For further information: or email

The Big Sing perform at the gallery every year for their annual Christmas performances, as well as the following special events:

January 2012 – Performance of For Work for Love with Lemm Sissay

Poet, Lemm Sissay was commissioned by arts organisation Workers of Art to write a poem based on Margate and the surrounding villages.  Lemm Sissay performed the poem entitled “For Work for Love”.  The lyrics of the poem became a song performed by Thanet Big Sing Community Choir, led by Emily Peasgood and set to original music by Tony Castro.

November 2013 – Performance of Lachrymose

Lachrymose was a choral work to commemorate local people lost at sea in the Great War.  Texts drawn from local poets and Margate’s WW1 memorial 100 piece community choir and a collaboration between Turner Contemporary, Jon Herring, Tania Holland Williams , Big Sing Choir, River Voice Community Choir and Canterbury Christ Church University.

April 2014 – Performance of Landscapes

Inspired by the works of JMW Turner and Helen Frankenthaler The Big Sing performed Landscapes, a new choral work by Emily Peasgood, which premiered at Turner Contemporary.

July 2014 – Jeremy Deller and English Magic

The choir performed with the Melodians Steel Orchestra from London at Turner Contemporary to support the Deller Exhibition

July 2016 – Art Inspiring Change

This project enabled 70 primary school children to become Young Arts Leaders (YALs), to transform neglected sites in the town, and to inspire others in their community to get involved in the arts.  The choir reprised the Lemm Sissay work For Work for Love at the gallery for the prize-giving event. 

July 2016 – The Red Volcano Reprise

The Thanet Big Sing were invited to reprise The Red Volcano Reprise for the launch of JMW Turner Exhibition, Adventures in Colour.

April 2018 – World Premiere of “On the Tram to the Nayland Rock”

The Thanet Big Sing Choir, accompanied by the Canterbury Christ Church University Wind Ensemble, performed this original work composed and arranged by music director, Tony Castro. It was an imagined soundscape in support of, Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’, which focused on many elements of TS Eliot’s seminal work, The Waste Land, part of which was written in the Nayland Rock shelter, Margate in 1921.

October 2018 – A performance of music and readings commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great War.

The concert reflected the humour and pathos of ordinary soldiers in the trenches, as well as giving voice to families back in “Blighty”:  A combination of choral works, songs and readings with material drawn from local archives.

July 2019 – Premiere of “Oh I do Like to Be” an original work in support of Turner Contemporary’s exciting exhibition Seaside Photographed.

The performances comprised words and music in keeping with the theme of the exhibition reflecting the relationship between photographers, photography and the British seaside from the 1850s to the present. Accompanied by keyboard and drums and a narrator/actor reading passages from local seaside stories within a framework of projected Thanet seaside scenes


Other Thanet Big Sing performances have been held at:

  • The Mandela Stage for London Southbank’s Annual Chorus Festival
  • Sweeps Festival, Rochester
  • Anniversary of Radio Caroline, Rochester
  • 50th Anniversary of the Landmark Trust, Ramsgate
  • Broadstairs Folk Week,
  • Quex Proms in the Park and a variety of local events in Kent

In partnership with