Category Archives: news

Bach at the Sesquicentenary Festival

The singers of Birmingham Festival Choral Society are looking forward to singing Bach’s St John Passion at the Sesquicentenary celebrations of the church of St Augustine of Hippo, Edgbaston. Apparently , this is the name for 150 years – which means that the church opened just 22 years after our choir’s first performance, in the Birmingham Triennial Festival.

The church has a notable choral tradition, and was the first Anglican church in Birmingham to have a surpliced choir. The composer Herbert Howells wrote his ‘St Augustine’s Service’ for the choir in 1967. The church sits in the middle of the beautiful St Augustine’s conservation area.

We hope that you’ll be able to join us for our concert here on 24th March. Click here for further details of the concert Bach: St John Passion

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St Augustine's Edgbaston-5251

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas cheer at Ladywood ARC!

When the title ‘Winter’s Snow’ was chosen for our Carol concert, we could not have foreseen that deep snow would fall on the Midlands the week before! Fortunately, the roads were clear by the time of our Carol concert in Ladywood ARC on 16th December.

Our guests were welcomed by the lovely music of a recorder quartet, played by Margaret, Judy, Barry and Margund.

The choir, in their bright Christmas colours, started the concert with ‘See amid the winter’s snow‘ followed by some well loved traditional carols.  Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some John Rutter favourites, and they contrasted with the more complex rhthyms of Sir Christemus (William Mathias) and Ceremonies (written by Patrick Larley for the ‘special birthday’ of one of our sopranos a few years ago). The hauntingly beautiful ‘O magnum mysterium’ by Morten Lauridsen was a highlight for many of the singers and audience.

 

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The Christmas music was broken up by Liz’s  dramatic reading of the humorous  Twelve thank you notes of Christmas (John Julius Norwich), and John Betjeman’s poem Christmas, read by David.

Our guests from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust told us of their valuable work, and we were very pleased to find out later that our concert had raised £960 for the Trust.

 

We were a little surprised to find that an organ solo – Bach’s Wachet auf – had been programmed near the end of the concert, and even more surprised when our Music Director, David Wynne, disappeared – but all was explained when he came back, wearing a very dazzling Christmas suit! The concert ended with many smiling faces in the choir, as ‘the suit’ conducted us in Rutter’s Twelve days of Christmas!

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The evening ended with lots of happy chatter as we shared mulled wine and mince pies with our guests in the audience.

Happy Christmas everyone!

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‘Crisis’ 50th Anniversary Carol Concert.

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Singers from Birmingham Festival Choral Society will be leading the congregational singing at the ‘Crisis’ 50th Anniversary Carol concert in St Martin in the Bull Ring, 6 – 7pm on Tuesday 5th December.

Homelessness is a subject of concern to us all, and we were moved by the personal stories we heard at our charity carol service in aid of Crisis, last year.

Here is an invitation to you from the charity:

Crisis would like to invite you to a very special carol service to mark our 50th anniversary.

St Martin in the Bull Ring is a special venue for us and this year, our carol service takes on an even more significance as we mark our 50th Anniversary, and our successes in tackling homelessness over the years.

The carol service this year will allow us to reflect on the past fifty years and the remarkable people who have played a part in our history since we were formed as a cross-party awareness raising campaign in 1967.

It will also be a chance to come together to focus on our shared goal of ending homelessness for good.

Link to Crisis website.

 

 

 

Christmas Carol Concert.

WINTER’S SNOW

Birmingham Festival Choral Society presents our ever popular Christmas charity concert!

Come and share Christmas music and carols, followed by festive refreshments.

A collection will be taken for the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust.

Saturday 16th December 6pm

St John’s and St Peter’s Church, Ladywood ARC, Darnley Road, Birmingham, B16 8TF

Birmingham Festival Choral Society.

Conductor: David Wynne.

Organist: Kevin Gill

 

Tickets £10 (under 18s free).  Click here for tickets.

 

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‘Mozart Requiem’ – 18th November!

We do hope that you will be able to come to hear two beautiful works of choral sacred music at the next  Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert.

Mozart’s much-loved Requiem will be performed by BFCS on 18th November, using Czerny’s beautiful, and rarely-heard, accompaniment for piano (four hands).

Mozart died at only 35 – poignantly, whilst working on his Requiem Mass. The mysterious circumstances around his last days formed the basis of the film ‘Amadeus’. The Requiem is a serene epitaph to a supremely gifted and revered composer.

In contrast, Ralph Vaughan Williams lived until his mid-80s. His Mass in G Minor, the other work in the concert, is notable for being the first Catholic Mass to be written in England since the Reformation. His experiences shortly before, as an ambulance driver in in the first World War, must surely have had some influence on the contemplative style of the piece. The Mass reflects the style of Byrd and other great Elizabethan church composers which was enjoying a revival in the early 20th century. It was first performed as a concert piece in Birmingham in 1922, and was first used as an integral part of the Mass in Westminster Cathedral in 1923.

Click here for tickets to Mozart Requiem.

MOZART REQUIEM

Saturday 18th November 7.30pm

Ladywood ARC, St John’s and St Peter’s Church.
Darnley Rd
Birmingham
West Midlands
B16 8TF

Mozart: Requiem 

Czerny’s four-hand piano accompaniment: Kevin Gill and Stephen Hargreaves.

Vaughan Williams: Mass in G minor

for unaccompanied double choir.

Vaughan Williams: Rhosymedre (organ)

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Greensleaves (KG and SH, piano)

Vocal soloists from the Birmingham Conservatoire: Olivia Thornber, Elise Fairley, Jack Dolan and Joseph Clayton

Birmingham Festival Choral Society.

Conductor: David Wynne.

 

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Come to our Open Rehearsal on 6th September!

The first Wednesday of term is always an Open Rehearsal. Come and have a sing with us! It doesn’t matter whether it’s years since you sang at school, or whether you’re a regular singer – all are welcome to try us, with no obligation. Chat to our singers over coffee and cake in the interval.

We are a friendly choir of men and women with a wide range of ages and abilities, united by a love of singing. This term we’ll be learning the Mozart Requiem and Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor for our November concert, followed by Carols for Christmas.

You can find more details about joining BFCS here: Join our choir

As well as giving concerts in Birmingham and the Midlands, we tour abroad every 3 years – great for singing experiences, as well as strengthening choir friendships. Further information can be found on our Tours page: Tours

The Open Rehearsal starts at 7pm on Wednesday 6th September – we hope to see you there!

 

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BFCS singers sightseeing during their tour in Burgundy, France. July 2016.

Carmina! How did it sound?

From the Birmingham Post, 22nd June 2017:

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Reviews sent to our website , from members of the audience.

Superb! I’m not musically trained but I’ve been listening to 
classical music for decades 
& have heard a number of recordings of the Orff. 
A live performance is audibly preferable – even if the production 
is less to one’s taste. 
THIS was so strikingly superior and “live” to any recording I’ve 
ever heard – plus we could 
see how the less featured instruments actually perform. 

The joint choir, the juniors and the soloists were powerful, 
subtle and convincing. 
We thought it an excellent experience for the young singers to be 
there in the midst of the 
whole performance – and weren’t they mature throughout! 

The Bernstein was entirely new to us, again, convincing in its 
linguistic variety and engrossing. 

As to what can be released from a Pandora’s suitcase! And how 
they acted their parts in it! 
An astounding evening we would not have missed. 

*****

A wonderful Saturday evening at the Bramall.
A warm (very) summer’s evening, a perfect setting in the University, an audience bursting with anticipation—-and amazing performances by everyone.
The sound was quite literally stupendous—it amazed and dazzled and overwhelmed….
Everyone involved must be—and quite rightly—very proud….

*****

A brief note to say how much we enjoyed the concert on Saturday. 

The Chichester Psalms were new to us and a little challenging. The percussion was excellent and superb entertainment. Carmina Burana was magnificent. Congratulations to all who took part.

The looks on the childrens’ faces at the percussionists’ faces was almost worth the ticket price alone. 
We frequently attend your concerts – travelling from Nuneaton.
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Two cities come together in song.

 

‘Two Cities, One Voice’

The Bramall was packed for our second concert with Liverpool Welsh Choral on Saturday! 400 people in the audience, and 250 on stage were eagerly awaiting our big ‘Carmina’ concert.

In the first half was Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms’, a work with beautiful melodies and contrasting discordant passages with complex rhythms. 13 year old James Corcoran was our soloist, singing the Hebrew version of ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’. The Mixed Metal Percussion Ensemble then amused us with a clever item ‘Suitcase of Sounds’.

It was a warm night, so people were pleased to spill outside into Chancellor’s Court to enjoy interval drinks and conversation in the evening sun.

 

Carmina Burana was the showpiece in the second half! Three choirs singing the famous ‘O Fortuna’ was a powerful opening to the work!

‘O Fortuna’ sings of the Wheel of Fortune – the ups and downs of life. Our posters had all used the image of a fragment of a medieval fresco in Rochester Cathedral, depicting the Wheel of Fortune. It was most interesting to meet a man in the interval who had come to the concert as a result of seeing one of our posters. This image had attracted his attention immediately, as he had been a pupil at the Cathedral School in Rochester, and looked at that fresco on the wall many, many times!

The programme used the image of a screenprint ‘O Fortuna’, made by one of our former sopranos , Norma Southwick, some years ago.

It was good to sing the whole work, as well as O Fortuna at the beginning and the end. The tenors and basses had a particularly large part to sing in the Taverna section. Sam Oram, our baritone soloist, sang the solos in the drunken scene with great conviction!

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The children’s choir in Carmina Burana, drawn from David and Alexandra Wynne’s junior choirs at St Chad’s Cathedral and the Junior Conservatoire, provided an important contribution, and sang their part with confidence.

Edward Harrisson (tenor) and Loretta Hopkins (soprano) both sang very demanding solos with ease.

Finally, the whole scene, with Kevin Gill and Stephen Hargreaves playing the two pianos, Mixed Metal Percussion Ensemble, the soloists and the three choirs, all under David Wynne’s clear and confident direction. Bravo!

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Birmingham Festival Choral Society and Liverpool Welsh Choral thoroughly enjoyed singing these choral works, and the visits to each others cities has led to warm friendships between the two choirs. It has taken a lot of work for the organisers over two years, but it was definitely worth it! Here’s to the next time!

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Message from the MD of Liverpool Welsh Choral, Keith Orrell

Well done everyone last night. Two great concerts and many happy friendships and musical highs. All the best BFCS.

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Carmina – this Saturday!

Following our very successful concert in Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, we’re really looking forward to singing again with Liverpool Welsh Choral on Saturday (17th June). The Liverpool singers will join us on the stage of the Elgar Concert Hall, Bramall Music building, to sing Carmina Burana and the Chichester Psalms once again.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham and her consort will be there – we hope you will be too!

Click here for ‘Carmina’ tickets.

We will also be joined by young singers from David’s Wynne’s Junior Choirs at St Chad’s and the Birmingham Conservatoire.

The soloists will be Loretta Hopkins, Samuel Oram and Edward Harrison.

 

Simplified Carmina