Last Saturday, 14th December, David Wynne put on his Christmas Suit (!) and led the singers of Birmingham Festival Choral Society and their friends and family in an evening of Christmas music and readings.
It’s hard to imagine a Carol Concert without music by Rutter! Our audience was treated to three of Rutter’s carols, as well as Christmas music by Tchaikovsky, Joubert, and many arrangements by David Willcocks. One highlight was The Three Kings, by Cornelius, with the baritone solo sung beautifully by Barry Jones , standing in at short notice for a croaky David Wynne. David’s voice was good enough, though to read out Christmas cracker jokes between the items!
We also heard readings from A Christmas Carol, (Dickens), The Oxen (Hardy) and Journey of the Magi (Rust)
We were pleased to have a chance to sing Ring the Bells by Paul Fincham once more. We were one of 15 choirs singing this new carol in performances on Saturday 14th December – the listing on the London Philharmonic website showed many performances during December, with all proceeds from the sale of the music going to the charity Crisis.
Our charity for this year was The Cameron Grant Memorial Trust, set up after Cameron took his own life in 2014. Cameron’s father told us how the charity aims to support young people with mental health difficulties, and to encourage them to seek help and talk about how they feel. Our generous audience and singers put £600 in the collecting buckets.
Our concert finished with an enthusiastic rendition of Jingle Bells, with members of the audience invited to join in by shaking their keys! Then it was time for the mulled wine and mince pies and a chance to chat to friends and family.
Our Christmas Concert is nearly here! It’s one of our favourite times of the year – Christmas music, mince pies and mulled wine in the warm and attractive venue of Ladywood ARC. We do hope that many friends, new and old, will be able to join us.
We will be supporting a charity that has grown out of great personal sadness. The Cameron Grant Memorial Trust has been founded to raise awareness and support mental health in young people. Please give generously.
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!
Christmas carol singing started early for us this year, on the first day of December. A group of intrepid singers from Birmingham Festival Choral Society braved the traffic jams and Christmas shopping crowds to make our way to Grand Central and join in the big fund-raising event for Youth Music.
100 choirs were singing in 8 rail stations up and down the country this weekend to raise money for the Youth Music charity, which invests in music making projects to help young people develop personally, socially and musically. For further information, have a look at their website: https://www.youthmusic.org.uk
We set up our keyboard and banners right under the departure boards, and off we went, singing a range of carols to the passing crowds. There was a loud hubbub in the station and regular tannoy announcements, so we soon realised that the pianissimo passages would have to be upgraded to forte! A circle of supporters and passers by soon built up, and a number of people were singing along with us in the well known carols.
The 30 minutes sped by , and soon another choir was lining up to take our place. The organisers thanked us for our contribution, and soon everyone had disappeared into the crowds again, with those Christmas melodies going round in their heads.
Many thanks to Bill Brown and Jane Arstall for these lovely photos of the event.
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.
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!
The evening ended with lots of happy chatter as we shared mulled wine and mince pies with our guests in the audience.
Intrepid singers from Birmingham Festival Choral Society braved the snow and ice on Tuesday to sing carols at the Cube, the distinctive Birmingham landmark containing offices, shops, apartments and restaurants. The ‘Carol Festival’ was to raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the Cube’s chosen charity.
The atrium of the Cube is open to the elements and if you’re wondering whether it was cold, take a look at our two Music Directors for the evening, Alexandra and David Wynne!
The atrium looked very pretty though, with the huge Christmas tree.
BFCS started the evening with a selection of Christmas music, then we were followed by the children of the St Chad’s Children’s choir, led by both David and Alexandra. Finally, we heard from two of Alexandra’s workplace choirs made up of singers from firms based in the Cube.
We hope that all those workers, shoppers and diners passing through the Cube enjoyed the Christmas music, and dropped a generous donation in the collecting buckets for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Birmingham Festival Choral Society was pleased to support such a worthwhile cause.
Last night, BFCS singers led the singing at the Crisis UK 50th anniversary Carol Service in St Martin in the Bull Ring.
We heard stories of despair and hope from people who had been helped by the charity, and saw a video of their trip to London to record a new fund raising version of ‘Streets of London’ with Ralph McTell and Annie Lennox.
50 years ago, when ‘Streets of London’ was in the charts, ‘Crisis’ was set up to raise awareness of the problem of homelessness. The aim was to make it a thing of the past. They could not have foreseen that in 2017 the problem would be greater than ever.
We were pleased to support this much needed charity.
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.
Christmas music filled the air at Ladywood ARC last Saturday. A recorder quartet greeted our guests with Christmas music as they arrived. The lights were dimmed, candles were lit, and the choir processed down the sides of the church to take their places and sing ‘Gaudete’. BFCS sang carols old and new, and invited the audience to sing the traditional carols with us. Kevin Gill conducted the choir and introduced the programme – the final concert in his term as caretaker Music Director.
We were moved by the short talk from ‘Crisis at Christmas’, particularly the testimony of a young student from Azerbaijan, who had been homeless until Crisis helped her get on her feet. She now has a job and can support herself. Singers and audience gave generously and raised £908 for the charity.
We were delighted that the Lord Mayor of Birmingham could attend our Carol Concert, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress. As Councillor Carl Rice, he represents the Ladywood Ward. Crisis at Christmas is a charity they both support. We would like to thank the Lord Mayor for taking the atmospheric candlelit picture of the choir, and posting it on Social Media.
The concert was followed by mince pies and mulled wine, and much conversation.
The small singing group ‘BFCS in Harmony’, led by Margaret Jones, entertained the Residents of Queen Mother Court, Selly Oak, with Carols on Monday 19th December, and our final Christmas event will be the leading of carol singing at ‘The Highfield’, Edgbaston, on Friday 23rd.
Conversation after the concert
The Lord Mayor speaks to representatives of ‘Crisis’.
the recorder quartet playing Christmas music as guests arrived.
The Choir by Candlelight. (Photo taken by the Lord Mayor)
The friendly Birmingham choir singing the world's best choral music.