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

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16.11.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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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
15.11.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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Christopher Moore – Piano four hands secondo Christopher started his musical career when he was very young: ‘my grandmother played piano, organ and violin and sat me on her knee at the piano as a baby to get me interested!’ He started piano lessons when he was eight, oboe at eleven and organ at thirteen. He worked for a firm of organ builders for a year after school and then read music at Durham University, where he played the organ a lot.   Christopher taught in schools and churches in Dorset, London and Sussex before moving to Cambridge in 1986 to take up the post of Director of Music at Great St Mary’s. This was a great challenge, he says, ‘but I enjoyed it, I built up the choirs, had a new organ, very supportive vicars, a lot of autonomy and a lot of fun! It became quite a centre for music and still is’. In 1998 Christopher moved to Sudbury while he was working as an examiner for the ABRSM, ‘because I fell in love with a beautiful old house which I had great fun restoring – architecture and old buildings are a passion’. In 2004 he moved to South Africa to be Director of Music at the Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Grahamstown. He did a lot of work with big African choirs; ‘they learn everything by Tonic sol-fa but have amazing ambition, sang Schubert masses, Handel’s oratorios, the full traditional repertoire, as well as African music’. Christopher formed a choir of street children from a local shelter. ‘It was inspiring, a lot of them were orphans, some were HIV positive, some had been rescued from living in drains. They were so enthusiastic, they used to come and sing in the cathedral most weeks and would come running in, saying “Mr Chris, can we sing another song?” ’ Christopher returned to the UK in 2006 and was Director of Music at St Michael and All Angels, Croydon for eighteen months before resuming a freelance career. For thirty years he was an examiner for the ABRSM, examining in 28 countries. He holds the Fellowship diplomas of the Royal College of Organists and Trinity College of Music and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Diploma in Church Music. He has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Guild of Church Musicians. Christopher was until recently conductor of the Bury St Edmunds Friendly Orchestra and the Tudor Rose Singers, and Choir Director at St Mary’s church. He is busy as a pianist, organist, harpsichordist, accompanist and teacher as well as pianist of the Sokolowski Trio and the Linnet Ensemble. ‘I play the piano now much more than the organ, I practise a lot because we play quite tricky music!’ His favourite composers? ‘Bach and Handel – I love Handel in particular. But also Elgar and Rachmaninov, Haydn, Mozart and Britten – I saw him conduct quite often as a boy’. We’re very much looking forward to Christopher accompanying our Brahms Requiem along with James Recknell at Saturday’s concert. The concert is at the Apex concert hall, Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 16 November 2019, starting at 7.30pm. To get tickets, go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk, phone 01284 760101, or click here. Tickets are selling fast.
11.11.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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James Recknell – Piano four hands primo James was the Bury Bach Choir’s rehearsal accompanist for around ten years under its former Music Director, Fred Oxley, and rejoined us as our hugely liked and respected accompanist in the early 2000s. He regularly plays the piano, harpsichord or organ at our concerts and is accompanying the choir at our concert on 16 November for both the Choral Suite from Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man and as the primo player in Brahms’s piano four-hands arrangement for Ein deutsches Requiem. Keyboard playing has always been James’s passion and by the age of twelve he had passed his piano exams up to Grade VII. James went on to study music at Cambridge University and took lessons on the new harpsichord at Magdalen College. His first teaching job was in maths, and James thinks ‘there is definitely a correlation between music and maths, I did both at ‘A’ level – I suppose it’s to do with the analytical part of the brain’. While he was teaching maths he took some organ lessons, and went on to take his ARCO and FRCO organ examinations, achieving prizes in both. Does he have a preference? ‘I think, heart of hearts, I enjoy the piano more, the harpsichord too.’ He worked at Meridian Records with John Shuttleworth as a producer and continued this while doing his day job at Culford School, where he was Director of Music from 1981 until retiring in 2013, though he is still the Head of Keyboard at the school. ‘At Culford I tried to be as versatile a general musician as possible’, he says, ‘in charge of musical events, running a chapel choir, accompanying for exams and concerts, doing musicals and playing the violin too!’ James has been associated with East Anglian music for many years and has directed many music groups and choirs, including the Thetford Singers, the St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir, the Culford Choral Society and the Churchgate Sinfonia. He has been the Musical Director for the Suffolk Young People’s Theatre for over ten years and he has worked on many occasions with the Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society. He enjoys being an accompanist for many talented soloists and he is also the organist and choirmaster at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford. James likes the challenge of accompanying the choir. ‘One very important thing you must have as an accompanist is very good sight-reading – you can’t possibly learn everything you have to play.’ And he has to listen intently to everything at rehearsal, ‘I have to be on the ball so I’m ready for what Philip wants next, so the rehearsal can flow – and I like to interfere occasionally if I hear a wrong note!’ The choir members know how lucky we are to have him as our accompanist, and how helpful he is at rehearsals, doing his job with consummate skill and endless patience! ‘I enjoy it’, he says, in his usual understated way, ‘it’s nice just to be able to sit back and play!’ The concert is at the Apex concert hall, Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 16 November 2019, starting at 7.30pm. To get tickets, go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk, phone 01284 760101, or click here. Tickets are selling fast.
02.11.2019
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Brahms Requiem and piano four-hands At our concert on 16 November at The Apex, our performance of Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem will be accompanied by two pianists – James Recknell (the choir’s accompanist and keyboard player at our concerts) and Christopher Moore – playing one piano. This piano four-hands version was transcribed from the orchestral score by Brahms himself. Although his Requiem was conceived and written for a large chorus and full orchestra, Brahms also made two piano arrangements, one for two hands, and the four hands version that will accompany the choir at the concert. Each version has equal authority although the performances are inevitably different, and in each version the power and sincerity of Brahms’s invention shine through. So – why do this at all, and why do it for one piano rather than two? The main reason is that one piano is more easily available than two, and massively more available than a full orchestra! The first known piano four-hands works were produced in the late 18th century, by which time the piano keyboard was generally large enough for two people – four hands – to share. Schubert later made full use of the original effects four hands could make, as did Schumann and Brahms, especially in his Liebeslieder Walzer. People could play these works in their own homes, and duet transcriptions played the same role as recording equipment did over a century later – they made classical music accessible for people outside the concert hall. The two pianists sit side by side: the one on the right is called the Primo (James in our concert) and the other is the Secondo (Christopher). The score is usually printed side by side so each player has their own music directly in front of them. It helps if the pianists know each other and get on well, as ours certainly do! James and Christopher often cover events for each other in and around Bury St Edmunds (Christopher has stood in as our accompanist several times when James has been away, and they have both played for the choir before on harmonium and piano for Rossini's Petite Messe Solonelle). Of the Brahms Requiem, Christopher says ‘this version for four hands is very effective because you’ve got a lovely wide range and depth of notes – four hands can obviously produce more notes than two. Inevitably, a piano doesn’t give all the colours that an orchestra can give, but the choir can give so much colour. It’s a big choir, there should be some splendid noise! An orchestra has its own dominance and the choir won’t be shielded by that this time’. James, who used to play duets of Beethoven symphonies with his father, is mindful of the technicalities of piano four-hands. ‘When the work is so chordal, like the Brahms, you have to make sure you’re playing absolutely together.’ Christopher agrees: ‘Twenty fingers have to go down at exactly the same moment!’ ‘The Secondo player uses the pedals’, says James, ‘so you have to synchronise that – and for the page turner, we’re going to have to decide who nods, and will we both want the page turned at exactly the same time!’ Not to mention potential tangles when the Secondo's right hand has to intersect with the Primo's left hand… One thing is for sure, the Apex audience members sitting above the piano will have a fascinating view! ‘I’m looking forward to it’, says James. ‘It will be great fun’ Christopher says, ‘exciting!’ The concert is at the Apex concert hall, Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 16 November 2019, starting at 7.30pm. To get tickets, go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk, phone 01284 760101, or click here. Tickets are selling fast.
23.10.2019
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How Brahms composed his German Requiem On Saturday 16 November the Bury Bach Choir will perform Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem accompanied by piano four hands – one piano played by two people, James Recknell and Christopher Moore. The concert will also feature soprano Helen Bailey and baritone Tom Asher.  Although his Requiem was conceived and written for a large chorus and full orchestra, Brahms made two piano arrangements, one for two hands, and the four hands version that will accompany the choir at this concert. Each version has equal authority although the performances are inevitably different, and in each version the power and sincerity of Brahms’s invention shine through. Future posts will discuss piano four hands - and our pianists and soloists - in more detail, but this post considers the work itself. As its title suggests, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) is not a requiem setting in the conventional liturgical Latin tradition of Mozart or Verdi. Rather, by choosing words from the Lutheran Bible which focus on suffering and consolation as opposed to judgement and the afterlife, Brahms allies himself to the North German Protestantism of his upbringing and, moreover, the Lutheran musical tradition of J S Bach and Schütz. Brahms had studied the Lutheran Bible: his copy, preserved in a Viennese collection, is covered in pencil annotations and he kept a notebook with potentially useful texts. Lutheran theology rejected the concept of Purgatory and many of the Catholic rites, and while the traditional Latin Requiem is a plea for peace for the souls of the dead, Brahms’s Requiem seeks to provide comfort for the bereaved and proclaim the hope of resurrection and reunion after death. The composition of the German Requiem was a prolonged affair. While Brahms had formulated the idea in 1861, by when texts for four of the seven movements were selected, the sombre yet powerful B flat minor funeral march of the second movement originally started life in a symphony written under the shadow of Schumann’s death five years earlier. Schumann had championed Brahms as a young composer from provincial Hamburg, believing he had found the man whose ‘destiny should be to express the spirit of the age in the highest and most ideal fashion’. Later in life Brahms enjoyed showing his friends the manuscript of the work in its many different paper sizes, reflecting that when he began it, he couldn’t afford more than a few sheets of paper at a time! The German Requiem received its first performance on Good Friday 1868 at Bremen Cathedral, but it was not until the following year that the work was premiered in the version with which we are now familiar, with the inclusion of the fifth movement. This, with its reference to motherly love, was perhaps inspired and influenced by the death of Brahms’s mother in 1865. The work - Brahms’s first for major choir and orchestra - met with great acclaim at the Bremen performance, which was attended by over 2000 people, including many significant figures in German musical life. It was performed more than one hundred times throughout Europe over the next ten years. Brahms had finally fulfilled Schumann’s prophetic words written in 1853: ‘when he lowers his magic wand on the masses of choir and orchestra whose powers endow him with strength, we shall await wondrous glimpses into the world of the spirit’.The concert is at the Apex concert hall, Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 16 November 2019, starting at 7.30pm. To get tickets, go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk, phone 01284 760101, or click here. Tickets are selling fast.
29.08.2019
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Bury Bach Choir singers – James the tenor Whether you’re working, studying or enjoying the freedom of retirement, and whatever you sing – soprano, alto, tenor or bass – come and join us as our new term starts on 4 September. This post features the third of three interviews with current members of the choir, to give you a bit of encouragement! James, a tenor, is one of the Choir’s newest members, joining in January 2019.  He is a GP. James lived in Bury through his primary school years, then went away to school and university.  There wasn’t a job here for him after that so he lived in London for 35 years, singing in small choirs.   He says he’d been back in Bury for about a year and hadn’t been singing, so it was time!  He was determined, though, not just to join the first choir he came across and took time to find the right one.   ‘One of the things that attracted me to the Bury Bach Choir was the opportunity to sing big stuff, which I’ve never done’, he says.  ‘It’s very different, if you sing in a chamber choir you sing a certain repertoire and if there are only a few of you, you’re quite exposed, so singing St Matthew Passion as my first piece with the choir was amazing.  And I’m so looking forward to Verdi’s Requiem later in the year, I’ve never sung it, so it will be brilliant.’ ‘I like the fact that it’s so disciplined, Philip demands a lot so the two hour rehearsals are quite intense and I feel very focused, which is good for me.  Philip is very good at taking a phrase and making us work to get it better and better before going on to the next one.  He works on it until it’s just as he feels it should be, which gives us a sense of achievement, and means you can’t really think about anything else while you’re doing it.’ ‘Being in the choir is part of having a balanced life – a lot of people lead very stressful lives and don’t do anything to de-stress: no variety, no gym, no gardening etc.  The choir is a very nice component in my week.’ What would you say to someone who is thinking of joining us but doesn’t feel very confident? ‘I was made to feel very welcome, and that feeling of welcome has continued.  You can come and sing for a few weeks and you’ll know if it’s right for you by the time you have your voice check.  There’s so much help on-line now that if you’re willing to put some work in you can arrive at rehearsals well prepared, but the best thing to help with confidence is to realise that we’re all learning together.’ If you’re interested in joining us, 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!
28.08.2019
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Bury Bach Choir singers – Tim the tenor Whether you’re working, studying or enjoying the freedom of retirement, and whatever you sing – soprano, alto, tenor or bass – come and join us as our new term starts on 4 September. This post features the second of three interviews with current members of the choir, to give you a bit of encouragement! Tim is a tenor and has been in the choir for 7 years.  He works full time as a financial advisor. ‘When I first joined a choir I hadn’t sung for a long time, I could barely read music and had no idea if I was doing the right thing.  I’m not musically trained, I used to be in the church choir when I was a lad until my voice broke, and spent a large part of my adult life thinking I couldn’t sing because in my head I was still trying to reach the treble notes.  Then I joined a choir and discovered I was a tenor!’ What would you say to someone who was thinking of joining us but didn’t quite feel confident?  ‘I joined another choir first to see if I could actually do it, but looking back, I should have just jumped in with both feet and joined the Bury Bach Choir, because it doesn’t take much to get your ear in!’ ‘The great thing about being in a choir is if you’re not quite sure what to do from looking at the music, if you watch the conductor and listen to the people around you, you can pick it up fairly quickly.  There’s lots of info on the net about the complexities of music, and there’s a lot you can do by ear too’. You have a very busy job, do you ever think -  ah, I don’t really want to go to rehearsal tonight? ‘Yes, especially when it’s cold, but I never regret it afterwards because singing is good for the soul!  My job is quite pressurised, I’m having to make lots of decisions, and it’s curiously relaxing going for two hours’ rehearsal because you’re not making any decisions, you’re being told what to do in minute detail, and you can’t think about anything else!  So when I come away my mind is cleared of whatever troubles I’ve brought into the session’. ‘The greatest sense of achievement is when we’ve got to the end of a performance and I think ‘Crikey, I didn’t muck that up too badly!’ If you’re interested in joining us, 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!
27.08.2019
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Bury Bach Choir singers – James the bass Whether you’re working, studying or enjoying the freedom of retirement, and whatever you sing – soprano, alto, tenor or bass – come and join us as our new term starts on 4 September. This post features the first of three interviews with current members of the choir, to give you a bit of encouragement! James is a bass and has been in the choir since January 2017.  He works full time as a funeral director. James doesn’t read music, although, he says, ‘I can understand it a bit more now.  It was a bit scary to start with; I came into my first rehearsal, was handed the music and Philip said we’d start with Zadok the Priest.  I thought that’s brilliant, I know that piece, so then I picked it up’.  ‘I learn most of it by ear and try to sit between two experienced basses and listen, I can learn a lot from them.  I’ve got all the CDs, I listen to it in the car and sing along.' Is it because he loves it so much that he’s prepared to put the work in?  ‘Yes, one of the reasons I wanted to join a choir like this was the seriousness of it  – I think well, these people have paid to come to the concert and I’ve got to do it properly’. How does it feel to come to rehearsal after a day’s work? ‘Depending on what sort of day I’ve had, sometimes it take me a little while to get into the mood, but the warm-up is really helpful and I really enjoy rehearsals.’ ‘The choir is something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m glad I’ve done it  – I’m annoyed I didn’t do it years ago!  At the end of a concert it just gives me that sense of achievement, that we’ve all created something good together.’ ‘I feel sad when we leave each piece of music behind, it becomes a big part of your life and after a concert there’s a bit of a gap.  But then we come back and I think right, let’s get on with the next one now!’ If you’re interested in joining us, 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!
26.08.2019
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It’s time to sing! If you love choral music, if you love singing, if you’ve just moved to 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! Whether you’re working, studying or enjoying the freedom of retirement, and whatever you sing – soprano, alto, tenor or bass – come and join us as our new term starts on 4 September. The Bury Bach Choir will start rehearsals each week for our November concert on Wednesday 4 September, at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds.  We’ll be singing Brahms’ German Requiem, and the choral suite from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, which is new to the choir.  Later in the year we will sing Verdi’s coruscating Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah. Over the next few days on this blog, we’ll be featuring interviews with three singers.  They are all men, because although we want singers of all voice parts, we especially need men, and usually find they need more encouragement! If you’ve often wondered about joining a choir but are put off because you’re not sure if you can do it, or life feels too busy, have a look at the interviews – they might just give you the encouragement you need! 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!
12.06.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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Australian mezzo-soprano sings Purcell with Bury Bach Choir Bury Bach Choir is looking forward to welcoming Bronwen Stephens to Bury St Edmunds, to sing the roles of Second Witch and Second Woman in our concert performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas on Saturday 15 June at The Apex. Bronwen began her vocal studies at Pembroke School, in Australia, and was a member of its acclaimed Girls’ Choir and the Adelaide Youth Choir.  Following a career in the corporate world, she returned to intensive vocal studies in 2014, completing a Diploma in Opera and Performing Arts at Associated Studios in London.  For several years she was a member of the London Philharmonic Choir and Voce Chamber Choir, performing in London and on tour in Europe and Australasia. In 2015, Bronwen made her operatic title role debut as Carmen in London with Secret Opera and also premièred as Madre Germont in the company’s all female production of Verdi’s La Traviata – ‘The Trousered Traviata’ - with performances in London and on tour in the south east of England, including at the Brighton Fringe.  Other roles include Mercedes in Carmen for the New London Opera Players, Bianca in La Rondine, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana for Opera Passione and Mistress of the Novices in Suor Angelica for Skull of Yorick Productions in Thessaloniki, Greece.  In 2017,  Bronwen returned to Greece to sing Amore and Valetto in L’incoronazione di Poppea and  Suzuki in Madame Butterfly.  In 2018, Bronwen established Rogue Opera, which provides intimate fully-staged productions of classic operas for new audiences and spaces.  With Rogue Opera, Bronwen returned to the title role in Carmen in 2018 at the Wandsworth Arts Fringe and continues to tour the production to unique venues around the UK.  She will sing Donna Elvira in the company’s 2019 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Tickets for the concert, priced from £15, can be purchased through the choir's website www.burybachchoir.co.uk, by visiting the Apex Box Office, or by calling the Apex on 01284 758000.

Concerts

2019/20 Season

Saturday 14 December 2019

7.30pm

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Lavenham

A Christmas Celebration

Tickets on sale now

Saturday 7 March 2020

7.30pm

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Verdi Requiem

Tickets on sale now

Saturday 16 May 2020

7.00pm

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Handel Messiah

Tickets on sale 17 February

Future Concerts

Details here

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The Choir’s purpose is “to prepare and give public performances primarily of the core choral repertoire, using professional soloists and instrumentalists, to the highest possible standard”. 

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Bury St Edmunds Bach Society, registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation in England and Wales, no. 1181842.