The second Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Oratorio competition, sponsored by Birmingham Festival Choral Society, took place on Monday evening, 30th October. The six finalists treated the audience in the recital hall of the conservatoire to an evening of performances of the highest standard, singing music written by composers ranging from Bach and Handel to Durufle and Joubert.
BFCS’s big claim to fame is that we were the choir that performed the premiere of Elijah in 1846, so it was particularly good to hear three solos from that popular oratorio.
Ellen Smith, mezzo-soprano, was placed first, winning a financial prize, a trophy and a future engagement with BFCS. Ellen’s programme consisted of Es ist vollbract , from Bach’s St John Passion, Yet can I hear that dulcet lay, from the Choice of Hercules by Handel, and Pie Jesu from Durufle’s Requiem.
Second prize went to baritone Oliver Barker, who sang Lord God of Abraham from Mendelssohn’s Elijah, The Man he killed from the South of the line by John Joubert and Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries, from Handel’s Alexander’s Feast.
Tenor Joe Yates was placed Third, after singing Domine Deus from Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, The enemy said, from Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Deposuit potentes from Bach’s Magnificat and finally If with all your hearts from Mendelssohn’s Elijah
Tenor Daniel Marles and sopranos Abigail Baylis and Gabriella Rea Fanyvesi also delighted the audience with arias by de Lalande, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Mendelssohn.
All 17 performances were expertly accompanied by Jonathan French on the piano.
The adjudicator for the Oratorio competition was our BFCS Music Director, David Wynne. Many in the audience were glad that they were not in David’s shoes, as it was so difficult to chose between the singers! Tracy Piotrowska , BFCS Vice-Chair made the presentations.
Congratulations to all the singers for such great performances. We’ll enjoy following their future careers in music. We particularly look forward to working with Ellen when she takes up her prize as the soprano soloist at one of our future concerts.