An international concert pianist has praised a choir for its “resilience and determination” in it 50th year.

The 100-strong South West Essex Choir (SWEC) sang Mozart’s Requiem to a sold out crowd at Walthamstow Assembly Hall on Saturday.

The choir’s president and international concert pianist John Lill also performed Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto accompanied by Forest Philharmonic Orchestra.

The former Leyton County High School student, said: “It is a great honour to return to my home area to play.

However the 70-year-old, who gave his first recital aged nine was fierce in his criticism of the way he feels music is being “dumbed down”.

He claimed fortunes were being spent on the pop scene, leaving cash-starved classical orchestras and music societies struggling to survive.

He added: “SWEC’s survival for 50 years is an example of resilience and determination.”