It was a great concert on Saturday, attended by Birmingham’s Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. A full audience heard beautiful Chopin Nocturnes played on the piano by Kevin Gill, and many lovely choral items fitting in with the theme of night. It was a challenging and full repertoire, prepared and directed by our talented new music director, David Wynne.
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'Music evoked by the beauty of night'. David Wynne's first concert as our Music Director.
Tim Davis and David Wynne were guests on Radio WMs Sonny and Shay programme this afternoon, talking about Birmingham Festival Choral Society, David’s new appointment as Music Director, and the forthcoming ‘Nocturne’ concert.
David was challenged to give Sonny some singing exercises and decide what voice part he was – the conclusion was 1st Bass! Tim managed to get in every last detail about the choir, history, website and rehearsals – well done!
A selection of choral gems, familiar and unfamiliar, with a “nocturnal” theme, interspersed with popular piano music by Chopin, feature in the concert by Birmingham Festival Choral Society on April 1st.
Among the best-known of these fine vocal works are John Tavener’s “Song to Athene”, which rose to fame in 1997 when performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales; a setting of the “Londonderry Air” by Bob Chilcott; and “Water Night” by the prolific American choral composer Eric Whitacre.
BFCS patron John Joubert, who celebrates his 90th birthday this March, and whose latest opera Jane Eyre received its premier performance last autumn, is represented by two part-songs, “There is no rose of such virtue” and “O Lorde, the maker of al thing”, the words of the latter being attributed to King Henry VIII.
Part songs by three British composers from an earlier era – Robert Lucas Pearsall, Hubert Parry and Edward Elgar – will also be heard, including Parry’s moving “Songs of Farewell”, well-known in the choral repertoire. Brahms’ sacred song “Geistliches Lied” and his secular “Vier Quartette”, together with Faure’s popular “Cantique de Jean Racine” also feature in the programme.
Many of these items will be performed a capella; for the remaining numbers the choir will be joined by regular accompanist Kevin Gill, who also provides an interlude with three of Chopin’s famous Nocturnes.
The concert marks a departure from the more typical repertoire of large-scale works, such as oratorios and masses, by the Society, which has been in existence since the 1840s. (Their next concert in June includes two hugely popular 20th Century works: Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”.)
More importantly, it introduces the Society’s newly appointed Music Director, David Wynne, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire who has been active in teaching and conducting with both adult and junior choirs in the West Midlands and beyond.
The concert by Birmingham Festival Choral Society will take place on Saturday April 1st, commencing at 7.30pm, in the fine setting of St John’s and St Peter’s Church (Ladywood ARC), Darnley Road, Birmingham B16 8TF. Tickets (£14, students/under 16s £7) are available on the door before the concert, or beforehand from Ticket Source.
Post script: David Wynne and Tim Davis have been offered a slot on Radio WMs ‘Sunny & Shay’ programme between 3.30 and 4pm on Monday 20th March! They will be talking about David’s appointment as BFCS Music Director and the forthcoming concert.
Visitors to the 50+show at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) were treated to two 30 minute performances of popular classics from BFCS in Harmony. The programme ranged from settings of ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ by Mozart and Elgar to ‘Joyful joyful’ from ‘Sister Act, which we had sung at a wedding last year. It was great fun – and the receptive audience included someone who came up to tell us that she had sung with the Birmingham Festival Choral Society many years ago, another who was interested in joining in the future, and others who asked for details for booking BFCS in Harmony.
BFCS in Harmony is a small offshoot of the big Birmingham Festival Choral Society (BFCS), and is available to hire for weddings, Christmas carol singing and other events. It is led by Margaret Jones, who also sings contralto in the big BFCS.
Our concert on 1st April contains a wide variety of popular choral music, in keeping with our ‘Nocturne’ theme. This will be the first BFCS concert conducted by our new Music Director, David Wynne! We hope that you will be able to share it with us.
Frederic Chopin Three Nocturnes (Kevin Gill, piano)
Charles H.H.Parry Songs of Farewell (unaccompanied)
Have you made a New Year Resolution to join a choir? Come along to our free Open Rehearsal next Wednesday, 4th January and give us a try, with no obligation! We recommend arriving at 7pm, in order to find your way around and meet some singers before the rehearsal starts at 7.15pm. Please pass the message on to any prospective singers you know.
Christmas music filled the air at Ladywood ARC last Saturday. A recorder quartet greeted our guests with Christmas music as they arrived. The lights were dimmed, candles were lit, and the choir processed down the sides of the church to take their places and sing ‘Gaudete’. BFCS sang carols old and new, and invited the audience to sing the traditional carols with us. Kevin Gill conducted the choir and introduced the programme – the final concert in his term as caretaker Music Director.
We were moved by the short talk from ‘Crisis at Christmas’, particularly the testimony of a young student from Azerbaijan, who had been homeless until Crisis helped her get on her feet. She now has a job and can support herself. Singers and audience gave generously and raised £908 for the charity.
We were delighted that the Lord Mayor of Birmingham could attend our Carol Concert, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress. As Councillor Carl Rice, he represents the Ladywood Ward. Crisis at Christmas is a charity they both support. We would like to thank the Lord Mayor for taking the atmospheric candlelit picture of the choir, and posting it on Social Media.
The concert was followed by mince pies and mulled wine, and much conversation.
The small singing group ‘BFCS in Harmony’, led by Margaret Jones, entertained the Residents of Queen Mother Court, Selly Oak, with Carols on Monday 19th December, and our final Christmas event will be the leading of carol singing at ‘The Highfield’, Edgbaston, on Friday 23rd.
Conversation after the concert
The Lord Mayor speaks to representatives of ‘Crisis’.
the recorder quartet playing Christmas music as guests arrived.
The Choir by Candlelight. (Photo taken by the Lord Mayor)
Shelter’s Regional Events manager has written to thank BFCS singers for taking part in the first ‘Shelter’ Carol Service in Birmingham (see letter below).
Shelter is marking its 50 year anniversary, and the concert was shared with ‘The Choir with No Name’ which includes singers who are, or have been homeless. It was a privilege to share in such an event, and to hear about the important work of the charity. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, tweeted the following pictures and appreciation after the concert. Click to see tweet in full:
Message to the choir from James Robinson, Regional Events Manager, Shelter.
I just wanted to say from myself and on behalf of everyone at Shelter thanks to you and to everyone at the Birmingham Festival Choral Society for being part of our first carol service in Birmingham.
I personally very much enjoyed your performance pieces and it was wonderful to have the BFCS voices supporting in the congregational carols. It was hairs on the back of the neck stuff for me!
Please do pass on my thanks to everyone who was involved and we hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.