East End’s Achord Choir scores a ‘try’ for Rugby World Cup play-off

Achord Chamber Choir rehearse at Olympic stadium

Achord Chamber Choir rehearse at Olympic stadium - Credit: Achord Chamber Choir

A choir that holds its rehearsals in a former garment factory in London’s East End has been picked to sing the national anthems at the Rugby World Cup to be seen by millions on TV across the globe.

The Achord Chamber Choir which rehearses at Spitalfields’ Rag Factory in Brick Lane is singing the anthems of South Africa and Argentina in the play-off at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on Friday.

It is their second appearance at the World Cup, after their selection when Ireland beat Italy earlier this month in the same stadium.

Achord’s founder and musical director David Dellaire had sent in a recording of a recent concert—then had a call inviting them to sing.

“We get to do what we love at such a high profile event,” he said. “We have such talented singers who really deserve this opportunity.”

The choir was given just five days to learn the anthems following the outcome of the semi-finals.

But David insists they are up for the challenge.

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“We learn everything by heart for our concerts,” he explained. “So we’re used to memorising complicated music in different languages—but perhaps it’s just as well for us that Japan didn’t make it through!”

The Achord members have performed in “some awesome gigs” over the years, including a flash mob and 1980s-themed concerts, as well as traditional Christmas carols. Now the choir—started modestly in the heartland of the East End’s once-thriving Rag Trade—has gone ‘global’ at the Rugby World Cup.

The Rag Factory where the choir rehearses in Heneage Street, off Brick Lane, gives space for performance-based industries such as theatre, film, dance, music and fashion, and is often used for casting, rehearsals and TV location filming.