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.
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.
September is nearly here, and that means that we’ll be singing together again! If you’re considering joining a choral society like ours, why not come along and give us a try at our Open Rehearsals on the 4th and 11th September? All new singers will be given a warm welcome, and will be introduced to others of the same voice part to guide them through the rehearsal. David Wynne, our Music Director, has the magic talent of bringing the best out of the choir with lots of humour on the way.
Details of our rehearsals, subs, voice test and expression of interest form can be found on our ‘Join our Choir’ page here.
The programme this year is very varied, ranging from the choral favourite’ Messiah’ in an Anglo Catholic church renowned for its acoustics, to a summer concert of choral jazz and blues in an informal setting. Come along and share these wonderful choral experiences with us!
The friendly Birmingham choir singing the world's best choral music.
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