Birmingham Festival Choral Society’s annual Christmas charity carol concert was held at Ladywood ARC last Saturday. The weather was bitter outside, but the atmosphere inside the church was warm and welcoming.
The concert started with a welcome: ‘Wolcom Yule’, from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, arranged for higher voices:
The sopranos and altos sang three more works from the much-loved ‘Ceremony of Carols’ in this concert: ‘There is no rose’, As dew in Aprille’ and ‘This little babe’.
To redress the balance, the tenors and basses sang ‘In the bleak midwinter’, arranged for men’s voices. A real treat!
The remainder of the concert included Joubert’s arrangement of ‘There is no rose’, and carol arrangements from ‘Carols for choirs’ – new and familiar. Christmas poetry, some amusing, some thought provoking, also added to the enjoyment of the evening. The audience joined in the well known carols, and the sopranos had fun singing the descants!
The nominated charity this year was BID Services, formerly Birmingham Institute for the Deaf. One of the representatives for the charity told us about the valuable work they do. They then provided sign language interpretation in the hymn ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.
There was no excuse for singers not looking at the conductor as he was wearing THAT SUIT once again!!!
The concert ended with festive refreshments- mince pies and mulled wine – and a chance to chat to our guests and put some money in the collecting buckets for BID services.
Many thanks to Mel, Marilyn and Bryan who sent us photos from the audience.
Take a break from the Christmas preparations, and come and enjoy an evening of Christmas music with Birmingham Festival Choral Society!
Next Saturday the choir will be singing carols old and new, and a selection from Britten’s ‘Ceremony of Carols’. The evening will also include readings of Christmas poetry and opportunities for the audience to join in singing well-known carols.
We hope that the concert will raise a big sum for our nominated charity: B.I.D. Services (formerly Birmingham Institute for the Deaf). A representative of the charity will tell us about the important work they do.
Last but not least, we’d love you to join us for seasonal refreshments after the concert!
Trefoil House was full for our ‘Choral Jazz and Blues’ concert on a hot night in July. Our guests relaxed at tables, sipping their drinks and eating their snacks as they listened to a style of choral music that was very different to the usual BFCS repertoire.
It was a treat for the singers to be accompanied by such skilful Jazz musicians. Chris Corcoran on piano, Dave Wilkes on drums and Mike Green on upright bass gave us a rhythmic accompaniment that really boosted our singing!
The first half of the programme consisted of George Shearing’s ‘Songs and Sonnets from Shakespeare’, and the ‘Birthday Madrigals’ that John Rutter wrote for Shearing’s 75th birthday. Both works fuse traditional choral music with American Jazz influences. The Jazz Trio then entertained us, while people refilled their glasses or stepped outside to cool down.
The highlight of the evening came after the interval. ‘Mass in Blue’, Will Todd’s popular setting of the Latin Mass, combines his background in sacred choral music with his love of jazz. Although the style had seemed unfamiliar at the beginning of term, the BFCS singers had soon come to love the beauty of the Kyrie and Sanctus, the fun of the Benedictus, and the excitement of the Credo and Agnus Dei! Our soprano soloist Hannah Davey was just awesome, effortlessly moving between the loudest sections, with top Cs, and the spine-tingling beauty of the ‘Et incarnatus est’.
What a lovely surprise to find out that the concert had been recorded from the audience! Thank you to Alex Botten for sending this to us:
This concert was very popular with both singers and audience, and we hope to explore some other choral jazz works in the future. Watch this space!
Many thanks to David Jones and Mandy Hart for taking these pictures from the audience.
The music’s live! again, and this time we’re in the company of a local choir, the Birmingham Festival Choral Society (BFCS, for short).
A Bit of history
BFCS has a long history, stretching way back into the nineteenth century. Its history is intertwined with that of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festivals. The Festivals were held every three years to raise money for the Birmingham General Hospital. As the nineteenth century progressed, the Festival administrators spent a lot of time and effort attracting the best musical talent to compose and perform new choral music. These commissions composed by Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Sullivan, Gounod, Stanford, and later, Elgar, represented some of the best music of the time, and the BFCS was there, right at the centre. BFCS singers formed the core of each chorus used at the Festivals.
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
Birmingham was buzzing last weekend with hundreds of music and dance events happening in the ‘Birmingham Weekender’ event. There was ballet in the Bullring, an Orchestra playing in a multi storey car park, a parade through New Street led by a large mechanical elephant, and music and dance from all over the world.
[Photos: Christine Wright]
Birmingham Festival Choral Society was formed for the big Birmingham music festivals in Victorian times, so it was only right that we should be there at the big Birmingham music festival 170 years later!
We represented music of the Western Choral tradition, with pieces by Mozart, Elgar, Brahms and Chilcott.
[Photo: Jill Lampert]
[Above photos: Barry Whitehead]
It was a great experience to be a part of such an exciting event, and many of our singers took the chance to experience the performances going on over the city centre. The icing on the cake was having the chance to tour the brand new building of the newly honoured Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Read the Birmingham Post’s interview with our Music Director, David Wynne, published this week! David talks to Chris Morley about his career to date, and his future plans with Birmingham Festival Choral Society.
Do you love singing? Come and try a choir practice with Birmingham Festival Choral Society! (No obligation). Chat to our singers over coffee and cake in the interval.
We are a friendly mixed choir who sing a wide variety of the world’s best classical choral music. We’ll be learning Carmina Burana and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms this term, in preparation for concerts with the Liverpool Welsh Choral.
As well as concerts in Birmingham and the Midlands, we tour abroad every 3 years – great for singing experiences, as well as strengthening choir friendships.
We look forward to meeting you!
Wednesday 26th April, 7.00 for 7.15pm. Finishing time 9.30pm
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.
Open up these links to see the pictures and comments.
'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!