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Messiah – our professional performers.

We are delighted to to tell you about the top class soloists and baroque orchestra who will be performing ‘Messiah’ with us on 16th November! The concert will take place in the gothic church of St Alban the Martyr, Highgate, Birmingham, known for its beautiful acoustics.

THE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA

The Musical and Amicable Society society last performed with Birmingham Festival Choral Society in Bach’s St John Passion, in 2018. They are a collective of professional period-instrument specialists, performing in combinations ranging from small ensembles to full orchestra all over the country. Their presence will add a touch of Baroque magic to our performance!

Penelope Appleyard , Soprano.

Known for her clear and agile voice, Penelope Appleyard enjoys a busy freelance career as a soloist and ensemble singer, predominantly in the field of early music.

Penelope studied with Christine Cairns and Andrew King at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and in 2019 was awarded Honorary Membership of the Conservatoire for notable success since graduation. She has performed and recorded throughout the UK and internationally.

Xavier Hetherington, Tenor.

After graduating from St John’s College, Cambridge, and a brief period of study in Moscow, Xavier returned to the UK to study privately with Christine Cairns. He won a prestigious scholarshiop to the Royal College of Music, London, where he learns with Russell Smythe.

As a concert soloist Xavier has sung in Cathedrals and churches throughout England and in halls such as St John’s Smith Square and Wigmore Hall. He supported by Opera Prelude and has taken part in Operas in many places including the Royal College of Music, Dartington Festival and in the chorus at Glyndebourne.

Phillipa Thomas, Mezzo.

Phillipa Thomas began her studies at the University of York, where she was awarded the Concerto Prize, before continuing to further success, winning first place in the Birmingham Conservatoire Singing Prize. Since then, she has performed many operatic roles.

On the oratorio platform, Phillipa has been fortunate to work as a soloist with renowned choral societies and orchestras across the UK. Her extensive knowledge of and passion for sacred music has led to frequent performances of works from a variety of periods.

Phillipa has also recorded numerous oratorio solos as part of a project with the professional ensemble Blossom Street Singers. Phillipa is currently working at Oper Köln in their production of Brett Dean’s Hamlet and future projects include a follow-up album to the widely acclaimed Blossom Street recording, This Day.

James Willams, Baritone.

James Williams studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London, during which time he received training from eminent figures, such as Richard Bonynge, Simon Keenlyside and John Shirley-Quirk. Since graduating, he has enjoyed an active performing career throughout the UK, Europe and Asia.

James served as Musical Director for Brent Opera during their productions of Macbeth, Martha, and Nabucco, while having worked as a répétiteur for various London-based opera companies. As a composer, he recently witnessed the premiere of his Mass for St. Helen, as well as his commemorative cycle of war songs for baritone and piano, performed to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

Handel’s MESSIAH

Saturday 16 November 2019, 7.30pm

Church of St Alban the Martyr, Stanhope St, Birmingham B12 0YF

Our 2019/20 programme – save the dates!

We are delighted to present the flyers for our four main concerts in the 2019/20 season. They cover a wide range of choral music, including works by the Baroque composer, Handel, the 19th Century Operatic composer, Rossini and 20th and 21st century composers inspired by Jazz and Blues.

Make sure that you save the dates – not forgetting the very popular Christmas concert.

Whether singing or listening, we hope that you will enjoy them all!

Walking for Alan.

UPDATE: They did it! The sponsored walk to raise money in memory of Alan Clawley took place on Saturday 5th October. To date, about £1700 has been raised. Scroll down to read all about it!

Barry, one of our tenors, is doing a sponsored walk on Saturday 5th October in memory of our friend and fellow tenor Alan Clawley, who died in April 2018. The money raised will be split 50/50 between the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue CIO, a charity supported by Alan, his widow Hazel and family, and Birmingham Festival Choral Society, of which both Hazel and Alan have been longstanding members. Click here if you would like to donate.

Alan was an architect who was a passionate champion of Birmingham’s post-war architecture. As a Green Party activist he wanted to see buildings reused in a sustainable way rather than cast aside. He was very active in the community, and was described as ‘a “quiet colossus”; a thoroughly dependable man, the sort of person who just took care of the things that others wouldn’t volunteer for’.

 Read the full Birmingham Live tribute to Alan here.

Barry’s Walk will take place on Saturday 5 October and is about 15 miles. He will be joined by a number of fellow singers. They plan to walk to venues in Birmingham where our choir has performed. They’ll start at Grand Central Station, then to Carrs Lane Church, St Martin’s in the Bull Ring, St Alban’s Highgate, Trefoil House, St George’s Edgbaston, Edgbaston High School, King Edward’s School, Bramall Music Building at Birmingham University, Lordswood Girls School Harborne, St Augustine’s Edgbaston, The Oratory, Ladywood ARC, St Paul’s in the Jewellery Quarter, St Philip’s Cathedral and back to Grand Central. Please support Barry and his friends and know that your donation will be split equally between two worthwhile, but very different charities

If you would prefer to give in cash, rather than donating online, please speak to a choir member, or E mail fundraising@bfcs.org.