Singing in a choir brings many benefits for body and mind, as Birmingham Festival Choral Society singers will confirm. We all look forward to singing on a Wednesday evening – and the feeling after giving a concert is tremendous! Added to that, it’s a great place to make friends, through sharing Wednesday rehearsals, weekend workshops and tours abroad.
Would you like to give us a try? Come along to our Open Rehearsal on Wednesday 6th September, where you will find a friendly welcome. If you come at 7pm there will be enough time to meet you and introduce you to a singing buddy who can guide you through the rehearsal. This is a ‘taster session’ to see if you feel this is the choir for you – there is no obligation.
If you’re not able to make it to the Open Rehearsal, you will still be welcome at any of our other Wednesday rehearsals.
40 singers and 15 supporters set off on our choir tour to the Rhineland at the end of May. This was the 12th Birmingham Festival Choral Society tour abroad. This tour had been delayed by a year by Covid and had indeed been planned while we were still experiencing restrictions, so it seemed extra special when it finally happened.
This video really gives the feel of the tour experience! The music, ‘El Grillo’ by des Prez, is one of the pieces we sang on tour.
(When playing, click on the symbol on the bottom right to open the video up on full computer screen)
Video credit: Martha Davis.
We travelled by executive coach through the Eurotunnel on the way out, and by ferry on the way back. The long journey was made much less tiring both times by an overnight stop in the lovely city of Ghent. We arrived mid to late afternoon, so had plenty of time to get the tram into the city centre and have a leisurely walk round the historic buildings and eat in one of the many cafes and restaurants.
The next day we drove on to our main base in Mainz, on the river Rhine, where we stayed for five nights at Novotel Mainz.
Our concerts, on three successive days, were in attractive locations beside the river Rhine: Mainz (the capital of the region), Koblenz and Bingen.
Sightseeing tour. (click photos to open)
Evening concert in the Christuskirche, Maintz
Evening concert at the 1200 year old Basilika St Kastor, the setting for many historic events over the centuries.
Some of our party enjoyed a wine tasting tour in the morning, followed by a walk into Bingen.
Evening concert at Rheintal-Kongress-Centrum
Our final day in the Rhineland was a free day. The great majority opted for a short Rhine cruise from the wine-making town of Rüdesheim to Sankt-Goar, part of the Rhine Gorge which features legendary small towns and castles and vineyards along its course. That day was capped with our customary group supper and soirée at our hotel.
This tour had a great balance between ‘work and play’. The sightseeing was great, but the real highlights, which could never be experienced on a standard package holiday, were the concerts. The publicity had been sent in advance, but it was wonderful (and a great relief!) to see so many people coming through the doors, and to hear the generous applause and see the standing ovations at the end.
We were so lucky to have a trio of great professionals, helping to raise our concerts to such high standards – David Wynne our Music Director, Kevin Gill our accompanist and organ soloist, and Alexandra Wynne, our soprano soloist.
The choir had learnt a large amount of music for the tour and it was great to sing in those wonderful venues. But more than that – tours give a great opportunity for people to get to know each other better, and for strong friendships to be formed. We were particularly pleased that there were singers on tour who have joined the choir since the lockdown, as well as singers who have been on many previous BFCS tours.
Many thanks go to our wonderful BFCS tour committee, who organised the entire tour, without using a tour company.
Tim Davis Nick Lampert Alistair Main Eve Smylie Sue Thomas Liz Vick
It was hard work for them, but it was a great team effort and it paid off. To judge by the very positive feedback, on the concerts, the locations, the hotels, the balance of performance and leisure, Rhineland 2023 was a great success.
Thanks to the photographers whose photos were used in this blog: Alfred White, Christine Wright, Peter Wright and Geoff Evans.
Come and hear BFCS sing Rossini’s lovely Petite Messe Solennelle on Saturday 28th March, at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, King Edward’s School.
The Petite Messe Solennelle was written for performance at one of the very popular weekly musical salons held by Rossini and his wife at their Paris home. As such, it was originally scored for a small choir, accompanied by two pianos, with harmonium or accordion. We are looking forward to singing with piano and accordion accompaniment.
Caroline Modiba, soprano, Rachel Gilmore, mezzo soprano,
Joseph Kennedy, baritone, Richard Hansen, tenor.
Kevin Gill, piano, Ben De Souza, accordion
Rossini achieved superstar status early in life, having written over 40 operas by the age of 37. The William Tell Overture is one of the pieces for which he is best known in popular culture today. There followed a period of 25 years of ill health, during which he didn’t compose any new music.
In 1855 Rossini ‘returned to life’ on moving to Paris with his second wife, and their musical salons became internationally famous. These salons included music by many composers, and they inspired Rossini to write over 150 small works for performance by different soloists and ensembles.
The Petite Messe Solennelle was Rossini’s last major work , written in 1863. The opera composer’s beautiful melodies , colour and drama make this one of the most popular works in the choral repertoire. We love singing it, and we’re sure that you will enjoy listening to it!
Are you thinking of joining a choir? Come to our free Open Rehearsal next Wednesday (8th January) to enjoy a sing with us, and see if Birmingham Festival Choral Society is the choir for you!
We’ll be welcoming people to Lordswood Girls’ School from about 7pm, which will give time to have a chat, give you some music and introduce you to someone of the same voice part who can lead you through the rehearsal. There will be a chance to meet other singers over coffee and cake at the half time break.
The best part is the singing! Our Music Director, David Wynne, and accompanist, Kevin Gill, combine the achievement of high musical standards with good humour and friendliness – a winning combination!
The concert we will be leading up to this term is Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. The poster shows that Rossini was not blessed with film star looks, but he certainly knew how to write wonderful opera and choral music!
Have a look around the rest of our website, particularly the Join us page, to find out more about our rehearsals, concerts, overseas tours and our interesting history.
Hope to see you Wednesday!
The friendly Birmingham choir singing the world's best choral music.
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