Our concert in Lichfield Cathedral on 2nd July was a wonderful occasion! The choir, soloists and piano accompanists all came together under the leadership of David Wynne to produce a thrilling performance of Brahms’ A German Requiem and Finzi’s Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice. The main two works were supported by other Brahms compositions: Geistliches Lied for choir and organ, and Hungarian Dances no 5 and 8 for piano duet.
We are extremely grateful to photographer Michael Whitefoot for producing a superb set of photographs, from which these are selected.
Comments from the audience, posted on social media:
“Superb playing by the two accompanists. Fantastic concert.” LP
“It was an amazing concert, I got literal goosebumps” SE
“Lovely photos from a wonderful concert.” DS
“A great and really memorable concert. Thank you” KR
Kevin Gill and Stephen Hargreaves, our impressive piano duo, played the piano duet accompaniment to Brahms’ German Requiem, and two of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances.
Louise Wayman, soprano, and James Davies, baritone, were our talented soloists. (Click arrows)
“The Finzi was the standout for me, but Brahms’ ‘A German Requiem’ was navigated confidently, and the combination of Birmingham Festival Choral Society, soloists and accompaniment brought together an ensemble showing real enthusiasm and commitment.”
Our Passion Music concert on 26th March was a night to remember. Singing with the rhythmic backing of a jazz ensemble and the gorgeous jazz vocalist was a wonderful experience. All those weeks of preparation, and the inspiring workshop with the composer Will Todd came together to produce an evening of glorious choral jazz and blues.
Piano – Kevin Gill, Double bass – Mike Green, Drums – Julian Powell, Saxophone – Andy Isherwood, Soprano – Hannah Davey.
Passion Music, written by Will Todd in 2018, is an extremely moving telling of the Easter story of Christ’s passion through English texts set to jazz and blues. We also loved singing Mass in Blue once again.
The choir wore blue and yellow ribbons to mark the tragic situation in Ukraine. At the beginning of the second half the choir sang A Prayer for Ukraine, and a retiring collection for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Relief Fund raised £620.
Thank you to talented photographer Kyle Simms for this great collection of photographs from the concert.
Will Todd’s Mass in Blue and Passion Music are very different from our usual repertoire, but we’re really loving those jazz rhythms and blues harmonies! Listen to our singers and Music Director talking about the Will Todd music we’re learning for the concert at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre on 26th March.
One of the thrills of performing works by a living composer is that it’s possible to actually meet them, and discover their views on the way they’d like their music to sound. For this reason, we were delighted that Will Todd was able to join in our choir workshop on Sunday 27th February, and share his thoughts on his Mass in Blue and Passion Music as we prepare for our concert on 26th March.
We all warmed to Will straight away, and soon we found ourselves doing something we would not have believed possible – improvising in Dorian mode! That put us in the right frame of mind to study Passion Music before the break and, fortified by tea and cake, Mass in Blue afterwards.
David (Wynne), our Music Director, led us in singing each section, and then Will made encouraging and helpful comments on the style and tempo of the music. He was not dogmatic – in fact, one of the features of jazz and blues style is that there is room for interpretation.
Click to enlarge photos
Kevin (Gill), accompanied us with those complex jazzy rhythms and unfamiliar blues harmonies on the piano. It is a source of amazement how Kevin can play complex accompaniments to works as diverse as Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Brahm’s German Requiem and Will Todd’s Choral Jazz works without being fazed at all.
As always, there was plenty of time for humour!
Will Todd introduces Passion Music: In this video Will Todd describes how he chose the texts and set the music, illustrated with lots of excerpts from rehearsals and performances.
We’re delighted that Will Todd is coming to our choir workshop on Sunday. We’ll be rehearsing ‘Passion Music’ and ‘Mass in Blue’ , and it will be a real treat to hear insights from the composer of these wonderful pieces. They are challenging to learn, but it’s so rewarding to sing those complex rhythms and gorgeous blues harmonies.
In this 25 minute video, Will Todd gives us an insight into choosing the words for ‘Passion music’ and setting them to music. His fusion of choral, jazz and blues styles brings out the meaning of the story of Christ’s passion with spiritual sensitivity.
Rehearsals are well under way for a wonderful concert of Will Todd’s choral jazz music on Saturday 26th March.
Those who came to the Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert in July 2018 will remember the excitement of Mass in Blue, with its blend of energetic rhythmic jazz movements and gorgeous slow reflective pieces. Hannah Davey, our soprano soloist was the star of the show, and we’re delighted that she is able to sing with us again.
Passion Music was premiered in 2018 . Will Todd uses the same fusion of sacred choral music and jazz idoms to highlight different events in the Christian Passion story with spiritual sensitivity. The choir and soloist will be accompanied by a jazz ensemble consisting of piano, drums, double bass and saxophone.
Will Todd: Mass in Blue
Will Todd: Passion Music
Birmingham Festival Choral Society, conductor David Wynne,
Saturday 26th March 7.30pm
The Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, King Edward’s School,
Our Rossini concert on 30th October was a great occasion. It was wonderful to be performing live again – the first concert for 2 years.
BFCS had been ready to perform Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle in March 2020 when the pandemic caused the cancellation of the concert. We’ve been keeping it going during our Zoom rehearsals, so it was very well prepared! It was really enjoyable to sing it with such talented professionals – our soloists, Mimi Doulton, Rachel Gilmore, Ed Harrisson and Joe Kennedy, our accompanists, Ben de Souza and Kevin Gill, and our conductor, David Wynne. We were also very pleased to see so many of our friends and family in the audience.
Thank you to Alfred White for these lovely photos – a great souvenir of a wonderful evening.
Birmingham Festival Choral Society singers. Click the arrows to see all four photos.
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The friendly Birmingham choir singing the world's best choral music.
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