bury  singing bach  since choir  1932
bury                                 singing bach                                 since  choir                                 1932

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20.10.2018
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Bury Bach Choir is active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram To find out about joining the choir or coming to our concerts visit burybachchoir.co.uk
19.10.2018
Bury Bach Choir
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War and Peace – a concert to commemorate the Armistice Centenary On Saturday 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will perform a concert for Remembrance weekend at The Apex, opening with Benjamin Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury, followed by Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem, and concluding, after the interval, with Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem (see our blog here). There'll be a collection for  SSAFA after the concert Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury was composed in 1959 for the Pageant of Magna Carta in the grounds of the cathedral.  It’s less than three minutes long, for three trumpets, which each play a short solo and then come together for an emphatic and thrilling finale.  Because it's so short it's rarely performed, but its evocation of the Last Post, through the clarity of its trumpets, fits our theme beautifully. Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem began as an organ mass during World War II, but after the death of his father, to whom it is dedicated, he changed it to a requiem mass, and it was published in 1947. Duruflé belongs to the tradition of French organist composers such as Widor and Vierne.  He studied with Vierne at the Paris Conservatoire, and was his assistant at Notre Dame before becoming organist at St Etienne-du-Mont, one of Paris’s major parish churches, in 1930 - a position Duruflé held until his death in 1986. Duruflé was celebrated as a virtuoso recital organist – for example, he gave the première of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto in 1939 – and noted for his skills as an improviser. As a composer he was critical about his own compositions, publishing a few finely crafted works mainly for organ or choir, the longest and most famous of which is the Requiem.  He wrote ‘I am incapable of adding anything to the piano repertoire, view the string quartet with apprehension and envisage with terror the idea of composing a song after the finished examples of Schubert, Fauré and Debussy.’ These composers, along with Ravel, were Duruflé’s main influences, and the Requiem, with melodies inspired by Gregorian chant to which the composer added his own luxuriant harmonies, evokes feelings of rest and peace, rather than the dramatic visions of hell and damnation inspired by other requiems.  In a programme note written towards the end of his life, Duruflé commented that his Requiem ‘represents the idea of peace, of faith, and of hope’: very appropriate for a concert for Remembrance. At the performance on 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will be joined by our co-President, Valerie Reid (mezzo soprano), soprano Camilla Jeppeson, baritone Tom Asher and the Prometheus Orchestra.  For tickets (priced at £25, £20 and £15) go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk or click here.
29.09.2018
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Vaughan Williams:  Dona Nobis Pacem On 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will sing Vaughan Williams’ hauntingly beautiful cantata Dona Nobis Pacem as part of our commemoration of the Armistice Centenary.   The concert is supported by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust. The cantata was commissioned in 1936 for the centenary of the Huddersfield Choral Society, and written amid growing fears of a new war in Europe.  The words come principally from the scriptures and the poetry of Walt Whitman, written during the American Civil War. Whitman’s poetry seems to have had a profound fascination for British composers in the early 20th century, including Delius (Seadrift), Vaughan Williams (A Sea Symphony) and Holst (Ode to Death).  In 1911 Vaughan Williams began to compose a setting for Whitman’s Dirge for two veterans, but perhaps because he felt it was insufficient on its own, he put it away for 25 years, when it emerged as the solemn fourth movement of Dona Nobis Pacem, describing the moonlit burial of a father and son killed in battle. Huddersfield Choral Society is one of the UK’s oldest amateur choirs, conducted at its centenary by Malcolm Sargent.  When Vaughan Williams discovered that Sargent was due to be touring Australia at the time of the centenary concert, he wrote saying that he would have to reconsider his decision to write the new work if anyone other than Sargent was to conduct it.  It seems Sargent talked him round, as DonaNobis Pacem was performed on 2 October 1936 with the Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Albert Coates.  Vaughan Williams was there, and according to the Society’s official history, he came on stage to acknowledge the applause ‘and counted it an honour to have it performed for the first time by such a distinguished company’. Bury Bach Choir has a direct link to that concert – the father of one of our current members was a member of the Huddersfield Choral Society and performed in the premier, and she is actually using his score for our concert!   Dona Nobis Pacem is performed less often than many other choral works, but received an acclaimed performance at this year’s BBC Proms, with the BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Edward Gardner.   Its original orchestration is for a full orchestra and would be impossible to stage at The Apex, but in 2017 Jonathan Rathbone - formerly a choral scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge and Music Director of the Swingle Singers, and currently director of several London choirs – composed a new arrangement for small orchestra, originally for King’s College, Cambridge, which we will perform on 10 November.  This has made the work accessible to many choirs while retaining all of its drama, power and beauty. For the other half of the concert we will perform Duruflé’s Requiem, another work of great beauty, which will be the subject of another post very soon; now published, click here to view. For tickets (priced at £25, £20 and £15) go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk or click here.
21.08.2018
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Calling all singers! If you love choral music, if you love singing, if you’ve just moved to the Suffolk and want to continue singing with a good choir, if you’ve never sung in a choir before but enjoy music, or can read music, or any combination of these, your time is now! The Bury Bach Choir will start rehearsals for our November concert on Wednesday 5 September at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds.  We’ll be singing Vaughan Williams’ haunting Dona Nobis Pacem, which is new to the choir, and Duruflé’s Requiem, which the choir last sang in 2014.  Later in the year we will sing Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. All you need to do is contact Linda, our New Members’ Secretary (see below), come along to two or three rehearsals to see if you like us, and if you want to join, you’ll be asked to do a short and simple voice check (no audition pieces, just scales and aural tests) with our Music Director, Philip Reed, mainly to ensure you sing in the correct section for your voice. We’re a friendly lot, with singers of all ages with busy lives – what brings us together is our love of singing, our enjoyment of the music and our desire to be the best we can be.  Our singing year is September to June, and we give four concerts a year at venues including The Apex, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, St Mary’s Church and Lavenham Church. Find out more from our website here, or contact our New Members’ Secretary, Linda Cleveley, on 01284 703348 or 07757 316553, or newmember@burybachchoir.co.uk.  We’ve already had several enquiries for this year, so you won’t be alone, and you will be very welcome!
26.05.2018
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Graeme Danby - the Great British Bass! We are delighted that Graeme Danby will join us at our performance of Haydn’s The Creation on 2 June, singing Raphael and Adam.  Widely recognised as one of Britain’s finest character basses, Graeme performs regularly in the major international opera houses.   It is our great privilege that he is also our Co President, with his wife Valerie Reid.  For the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Graeme has sung:  Billy Jackrabbit, Charrington,  Gonzalo The Tempest, Second Armed Man, Casino Manager The Gambler and Il Sacristano Tosca. In over 200 appearances with English National Opera, Graeme has sung roles including Bartolo, Basilio, Collatinus, Dulcamara, Quince, Pistol, Pooh-Bah, Ribbing, Sacristan,  Sarastro; Snug and Somnus. Further UK engagements include Bartolo for Opera North and the Garsington Festival; Antonio for the Glyndebourne Festival; Collatus at the Buxton Festival;  Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring) for Opera North and Sacristan, Bosun (Billy Budd), Benedict (La Vie Parisienne) and Masetto for Scottish Opera. Graeme’s international engagements include Brag (Fairy Queen) at the Teatro Liceu; Somnus, Bartolo and Doctor Swallow with De Vlaamse Opera; Xuthus (Ion) at the Opera National du Rhin, Strasbourg; Snug (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and the Big Boss/ Fyodor/Newspaper Seller (A Dog’s Heart) at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan and Parsons at the Palau Reina Sofia, Valencia. His recent engagements include: Carmen, The Passenger and Les Contes d’Hoffmann with English National Opera, Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring) and Ashby (Fanciulla del West) with Opera North and his debut with the LA Philharmonic.  He recently sang Quince in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Tel Aviv and is currently appearing in the role in ENO’s production of the opera. Future engagements include Publio at the Salzburger Landestheater, Sacristan in Dublin and Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola) with Scottish Opera. Graeme Danby’s commercial recordings include: Lulu, A Masked Ball, The Magic Flute and Salome for Chandos’ Opera in English series; The Tempest for EMI and The Wandering Jew. The concert is on Saturday 2 June in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from www.burybachchoir.co.uk and by phoning 01284 758000.
24.05.2018
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Christopher Turner - Tenor We’re delighted to welcome Christopher Turner back to Bury St Edmunds, singing the tenor role of Uriel in Haydn’s The Creation, which we are performing on 2 June at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Born in Birmingham, Christopher read music at the University of Hull, furthering his studies with Barbara Robotham at the Royal Northern College of Music and at the National Opera Studio, where he was sponsored by the Scottish Endowment Trust and The Friends of Covent Garden.  He has received many prizes, including The Michael and Joyce Kennedy Prize for Singing Strauss, the Frederic Cox Prize, the Elizabeth Harwood Prize, and, most  recently, a Countess of Munster ‘Young Star’ Award and the Sybil Tutton Award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund.  He was also a major scholar of the Sir Peter Moores Foundation. Christopher made his professional début as Dr Blind Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera On Tour before joining the Young Singers Programme at English National Opera, where his roles included Robert Wilson Doctor Atomic, First Armed Man/First Priest The Magic Flute, Beppe Pagliacci, Simpleton Boris Godunov, Spoletta Tosca, Pong Turandot and Messenger Aida. Since then he has sung Don Ottavio and Roderigo Otello (Opera North), Janek The Makropulos Case and Esquire Parsifal (English National Opera) Borsa Rigoletto and Pong Turandot (Scottish Opera), Dr Caius Falstaff (Opera Holland Park), Damon Acis and Galatea, Prunier La Rondine, and Iro The Return of Ulysses (Iford Arts), Albert Albert Herring (Mid Wales Opera) and Tebaldo I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Chelsea Opera Group).  His recordings include Aubrey Maria di Rohan and Keeper of the Tower of Siena Pia de Tolomei for Opera Rara. Christopher performs regularly in concert and his performance have taken him throughout the UK, as well as Europe and the Far East.  His repertoire includes Bach Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat and St Matthew Passion, Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Handel Jephtha, Judas Maccabaeus and Messiah, Haydn The Creation, Mozart Requiem and Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle. Recent engagements include Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and with the Philharmonia at the Lichfield Festival, and Mozart Requiem and Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square. Plans include Ecclitico Il Mondo della Luna (English Touring Opera) and Apollo in Monteverdi's Orfeo (English National Opera) and Artemidoro in La Grotta di Trofonio (Bampton Classical Opera). The concert is on Saturday 2 June in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from www.burybachchoir.co.uk and by phoning 01284 758000.
22.05.2018
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Sena Larard, soprano, sings Gabriel and Eve in The Creation Making a welcome return to the Bury Bach Choir for its performance of Haydn’s The Creation on 2 June, American soprano Sena Larard has always had a love of music making. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia,  Sena holds a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the City University of New York, where she studied with Patricia McCaffrey, and a Liberal Arts degree from Roanoke College with a cello major.  She has also studied vocal technique with Bill Schuman, Jonathan Papp and our own Graeme Danby – in this performance, she is singing Eve to his Adam, which will be a wonderful treat. If you can’t wait for the concert, you can hear Sena singing on the soundtrack of Mirette (towards the end of the trailer), a short film featuring Tom Conti and Miriam Margolyes, which has been selected as part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival.   Sena is also very proud of her young voice studio:  her most advanced students are singing in the Royal Opera House Children’s Chorus, The National Children’s Chorus and at Italia Conti School for the Performing Arts. Recent concert performances include Carl Orff 's Carmina Burana with the Conservatoire de Luxembourg, Haydn's The Creation at Cadogan Hall, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Schubert's Mass in E flat Major, Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem in Ampleforth Abbey, Mozart's Coronation Mass in Newcastle, Brahms' Requiem with the English Arts Chorale, Bach's St John Passion in Arundel Cathedral and Handel's Dixit Dominus in Kingston.  Sena sang Purcell’s King Arthur with the Bury Bach Choir recently, and has also sung with the Ryedale Festival Orchestra, Essex Symphony Orchestra, and Suffolk Opera. Sena lives in London with her husband and two young children. The concert is on Saturday 2 June in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, starting at 7.30pm.  Tickets are available from www.burybachchoir.co.uk and by phoning 01284 758000.
12.05.2018
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Franz Joseph Haydn - creator of The Creation On 2 June the Bury Bach Choir will perform Haydn’s The Creation at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, with the Prometheus Orchestra and soloists Sena Larard (soprano), Christopher Turner (tenor) and Graeme Danby (bass), conducted by Philip Reed. Haydn (1732–1809) was born in Austria, the son of a wheelwright and a cook. Although his father wasn’t musically educated, he was a folk musician and the family frequently sang together and with their neighbours. Haydn became a prolific and prominent composer, writing over 100 symphonies, 83 string quartets, 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas. At a young age he entered the Choir School of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, with a reputedly very fine treble voice which lasted until he was 16, when the Habsburg Empress, Maria Theresa, famously said ‘That boy doesn't sing, he crows!’ The choirmaster had previously suggested he become a castrato, but Haydn’s father wouldn’t allow this. Instead, Haydn left the choir ignominiously, having been caned for cutting off another boy’s pigtail! His friend Johann Spangler took him in, and Haydn worked as a music teacher, organist and eventually accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned the ‘true fundamentals of composition’. He also studied the work of CPE Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence. In 1757 Haydn became Kappellmeister to Count Morzin, writing his first symphonies for the Count’s orchestra. He married, not happily, and had no children. He later became Kappellmeister to Prince Esterházy, and stayed in his employ for nearly 30 years, writing many of his works in that time. He met Mozart in the 1780s and each was impressed with the other’s music. Prince Esterházy died in 1790: his son Anton was not musical and the requirement for Haydn’s work dwindled, along with his salary. In 1790 he accepted an invitation to visit England from violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon. His music was already admired and played regularly in London and the visit lasted for over a year, to be repeated in 1794-5. Audiences flocked to his concerts and he became financially secure for the first time. The musician and scholar Charles Burney (father of Fanny) commented ‘Haydn himself presided at the piano-forte; and the sight of that renowned composer so electrified the audience, as to excite an attention and a pleasure superior to any that had ever been caused by instrumental music in England’. Some of Haydn’s best-known works were composed around this time, including the symphonies Surprise, Military, Drumroll and London, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University. Haydn met Beethoven in London and Beethoven later became his pupil for a time. Prince Anton Esterházy died in 1795, and his successor, Nicholas II, requested Haydn's return. A lover of church music, Nicholas set Haydn the task of composing a new setting of the mass every year. By this time he had become a celebrated figure in Vienna, and settled there, completing The Creation in 1798. It was first performed the following year, and Haydn led performances of it several times. In 1804, Haydn retired from the Prince’s service and illness effectively prevented him from any further composition. In 1808 a performance of The Creation was organised in his honour. The very frail composer was greeted by Beethoven and Salieri (who led the performance), but it was too much for him and he left at the interval. On 31 May 1809 Haydn died peacefully in his sleep. Mozart’s Requiem was played at his funeral.
27.02.2018
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A collaboration of conductors It is unusual for larger choirs to perform the same programme twice, and rarer still for two conductors to share the honours during a concert, but that is exactly what Edmond Fivet and Philip Reed will do when their choirs, the Aldeburgh Music Club Choir and the Bury Bach Choir, together perform Mozart’s glorious Mass in C Minor and Vesperae solennes de confessore, first at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on 3 March and then at Snape Maltings on 17 March. Edmond Fivet and Philip Reed So how did the idea come about?  Philip says 'Edmond made the suggestion as he wanted his choir to perform the Mass. This was quickly agreed - it’s such a great work despite its incomplete nature, and I’m always happy to conduct it. It took quite a while to find the first half of the concert and we went through several possibilities before I suggested the Vesperae, and keeping the whole evening exclusively to Mozart.  Edmond adds:  ‘We were anxious to find two works which were both significant and a challenge to the choirs.  The Mozart Mass, of course, has movements for two choirs, which again makes for interesting collaboration. Edmond has been a major force in British music education, having been Director of the Royal College of Music Junior Department and serving, for eighteen years, as Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He was appointed Director of Music of Aldeburgh Music Club in 2008. Edmond also conducts the Prometheus Orchestra, which is playing in both concerts and has championed the work of Suffolk-based composers. A widely experienced adjudicator, examiner and consultant, Edmond was appointed CBE in the Queen’s 2008 Birthday Honours for services to music and education. He says ‘Philip and I have known each other for a long while, both personally and musically, and we have been working very closely on this project’. Philip was appointed music director of the Bury Bach Choir in 2001. Previously, he was co-director of the Aldeburgh Festival Singers (1985–1987) and conductor of the Aldeburgh Music Club (1985–2001). At the Aldeburgh Festival he has assisted Steuart Bedford, Oliver Knussen and Mstislav Rostropovich, and has conducted many concerts at Snape Maltings. He was staff musicologist at the Britten–Pears Library, Aldeburgh, before joining English National Opera in 1997. Philip is an acknowledged authority on the life and works of Benjamin Britten and has published several books, including six volumes of Britten’s Selected Letters, for which he and his co-editor Donald Mitchell received a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 1991. Asked if their conducting styles are very different, Edmond says ‘Technically, conducting styles vary enormously and some of the greatest conductors in the world have unconventional approaches, to say the least’. Philip says ‘Everybody’s conducting style is personal to themselves, just as a singer’s voice or an instrumentalist’s sound are unique. I recall asking ENO’s Head of Music how Charles Mackerras made the orchestra sound so different: he replied ‘that’s the magic of a great musician, if only we could all do that when conducting’. So what are they looking forward to from the concerts? Philip says ‘I’m looking forward to making music with such an extended group of singers, and to sharing the experience of this great music with them and the audiences. I want everyone to feel the buzz that such events inevitably have after a lot of hard work.' Edmond adds ‘I would also say that the performances will be different, with musical taste, different soloists, different venues and acoustics, and reaction on the night - music has to be flexible and who knows how the feeling of the moment might affect the performance on the night?’ The obvious thing for music-lovers to do, then, is to attend both concerts! It should be a fascinating and memorable experience. Tickets for 3 March are available from The Apex Box Office, tel 01284 758000 or via this website. Tickets for 17 March are available via the Snape Maltings website.
20.02.2018
Bury Bach Choir
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A marvellous evening of Mozart On 3 March at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Bury Bach Choir and the Aldeburgh Music Club Choir will perform Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Vesperae solennes de confessore, conducted by Philip Reed and Edmond Fivet. They will be joined by the Prometheus Orchestra and five wonderful soloists: Sarah Fox, soprano; Rachel Dyson, soprano; Valerie Reid, mezzo soprano; Austin Gunn, tenor and Graeme Danby, bass. In 1781 Mozart moved to Vienna, delighted to be free of the shackles of working for the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg and able to spread his wings in the musical world.  In Vienna, he initially lodged with the Weber family, whose four daughters inevitably caught his eye.  At first he paid attention to the eldest daughter, Aloysia, an exceptionally gifted soprano who went on to enjoy an illustrious career, but it was her younger sister, the quiet, doe-eyed Constanze, also a soprano of no mean ability, who was eventually to capture his heart. They married in 1782, somewhat against Mozart’s father’s wishes. In the same year, possibly as a thank-offering for his marriage, Mozart resolved to embark on a large-scale mass setting that would showcase two sopranos, with lesser roles for the tenor and bass soloists. Perhaps by employing a pair of sopranos so brilliantly, Mozart was encapsulating something of his feelings for the Weber sisters. Five months after the wedding, Mozart wrote from Vienna to his father Leopold, in Salzburg, about his promise to write the mass.  ‘I truly made this promise to myself, and I truly hope to keep it.  When I made it my wife was still single – but since I had firmly resolved to marry her soon after her convalescence, it was easy for me to make the promise.  As you know, however, circumstances have frustrated our planned journey [to Salzburg], but the score of half a mass, which is lying here in the best expectations, is the proof that I really made the promise.’ Mozart’s visit to his father and sister, Nannerl, was postponed until after the birth of his son in June 1783, and they arrived in Salzburg in July.  The completed parts of the Mass in C minor, the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus, received their first performance on 26 October 1783 – reputedly the only performance in Mozart’s lifetime.  He was evidently out to impress: he could show off Constanze’s musicianship in the soprano solos to Leopold, and he could cock a snook at his former employer and colleagues at the Archbishop’s court. All this concert’s music comes from relatively early in Mozart’s career.  Composed in 1772 when Mozart was sixteen, his opera Lucio Silla, from which the overture will be performed, was commissioned by the Milanese ducal court, following the success there of his earlier Mitridate, rè di Ponto (1770). The story centres on the unpopular dictatorship of Lucio Silla, with themes of thwarted love, political marriage and murder plots. Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore is one of two full settings of music for the Office of Vespers from the period 1779–80, composed during Mozart’s tenure as a church musician at Salzburg’s episcopal court. Comprising five full psalm settings and the Magnificat, the collection is one of the most enduring examples of Mozart’s church music. The work gave Mozart the opportunity to write in a varied range of styles – from the then fashionable rocco manner to the austere fugal setting of Laudate pueri and the celebrated Laudate dominum, a radiant setting that would not be out of place in one of the composer’s later operas. To buy tickets for this concert, visit burybachchoir.co.uk

Concerts

2018/19 Season

Saturday 10 November 2018

7.30pm

The Apex, Charter Square

War and Peace (a concert for Remembrance weekend)

Tickets now on sale

Saturday 15 December 2018

7.30pm

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Lavenham

A Christmas Celebration

Tickets now on sale

Saturday 6 April 2019

6.30pm

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Bach St Matthew Passion

Tickets now on sale

Saturday 15 June 2019

7.30pm

The Apex, Charter Square

Purcell Dido and Aeneas

Booking opens 10 November

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