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

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30.08.2019
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
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
Bury Bach Choir
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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
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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.
12.06.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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Bury Bach Choir sings Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas The only known performance of Dido and Aeneas during Purcell’s lifetime was at Chelsea, in a boarding school run by Josias Priest, a famous dancer and choreographer, sometime before December 1689.  It may have been written for a court performance and later arranged for schoolgirls. This would explain several discrepancies between the libretto printed for the Chelsea amateur production (‘perform’d by young gentlewomen’) and the earliest surviving score, which  includes a baritone Aeneas as well as tenor and bass chorus parts which could hardly have been performed by Priest’s young pupils. The libretto was written by Nahum Tate, based on his five-act tragedy Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Lovers (1678), which he had originally called ‘Dido and Aeneas’, and various translations of the fourth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. The libretto is highly condensed and elliptical; certain key events, such as the manner of Dido’s death, are unspecified, or discreetly glossed over – for example, the lovers’ night in the cave. Allusions in the libretto offer hints of the occasion for which Dido and Aeneas may have been composed.  The prologue (for which the music is lost) seems to refer to the new political order after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and the Act I chorus ‘When monarchs unite, how happy their state, They triumph at once oe’r their foes and their fate’ also appears to compliment the new king and queen.  On the other hand, the opera itself, in which the prince deserts his queen with tragic consequences, would have been offensive during any part of the reign of William and Mary!  In one of his poems, Tate alluded to James II as Aeneas, who is misled by the evil machinations of the Sorceress and her acolytes (representing Roman Catholicism, a common metaphor at the time) into abandoning Dido, who symbolises the British people. Clare Presland While Tate’s libretto has been criticised for extreme compression of the story and under-development of the character of Aeneas, the pace and concision of the drama, in which the chorus plays several different roles (courtiers, huntsmen, cupids, witches, sailors), together with the irregular lines (advocated by Dryden, no less, as ideal for opera) appealed to Purcell, whose flexible phrasing always captures the meaning of the words.  What distinguishes his opera is the quality of the music and the human scale of the tragedy it conveys, exemplified most famously by the wonderful ‘Dido’s lament’, which stands as one of the greatest operatic arias of any age.  It will be sung in this concert by Suffolk-born opera star Clare Presland. The concert is at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday 15 June 2019, starting at 7.30pm.  Tickets, 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.
10.06.2019
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Welcome back Austin Gunn! Bury Bach Choir is delighted that one of the UK’s leading tenors, Austin Gunn, will return to sing with the choir on Saturday 15 June to sing the part of the sailor in our concert performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Austin made his professional operatic debut as Vorsinger in Zaide with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras in the Edinburgh International Festival.   His Scottish Opera debut was covering Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, directed by Sir Thomas Allen and conducted by Speranza Scapucci. He has worked with English National Opera every season since his debut as Guest in John Cage Dinner Party for ENO MusiCircus.  He is core tenor for ENO Baylis Know the Show events as Tamino in Magic Flute and Alfredo in La Traviata, a member of ENO Opera Squad 2015, 2016 and 2017 singing Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Don Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro in schools performances.  He has appeared as guest soloist with the ENO Community Choir.   Austin made his Portuguese debut in 2017 as Martin in the premiere staging of Hummus by Zad Moultaka and Manager in The Waiter's Revenge by Stephen Oliver at the Musica Na Fabrica Festival, Lisbon directed by Max Hoehn.  His Swiss debut last year was as the Spectre in Dvorak's The Spectre's Bride in Zürich, conducted by Philipp Mestrinel.  He performs extensively in opera galas for Black Cat Opera, Impromptu Opera, InterOpera, and Rocket Opera throughout the UK.   Future roles include cover Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni (Longborough Festival Opera), Alfredo La Traviata, Kornelis La Princesse Jaune, Don JoseCarmen, Canio Pagliacci, Erik The Flying Dutchman, Frederick The Pirates of Penzance (Berwick Festival Opera) and Ruttekin Robin Hood (William Shield Festival). Austin appears regularly throughout the UK and in France, Sweden and Italy in concert in repertoire ranging from Orff Carmina Burana and Rossini Stabat Mater to Bach St John Passion and Handel Judas Maccabeus.  As a recitalist in 2014-2015 he performed 'Tennyson's Lyricism and the Composer's Response' at the Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle, and 'Languorous Ecstasy', a selection of works by Libertine poets, at Hull University, as well as a selection of Victorian and Edwardian medicinal songs for the VIP relaunch of The Wellcome Collection in London.  He is currently preparing a recital of American art songs and a recital of 21st century music. Recording and film credits to date include Montague John Cage Dinner Party, Maxwell Davies Solstice of Light, 1st Tenor Soloist Curlew River, Zweite Lehrbube Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, all for BBC Radio 3, a recital of song for American television network PBS, and as the singing voice of a German soldier in the television series 'Band of Brothers' directed by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. 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. 
10.06.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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Henry Purcell and his Anthems Bury Bach Choir is delighted to feature the work of Henry Purcell (correctly pronounced with equal emphasis on both syllables!) in our final concert this season, on Saturday 15 June at The Apex. Purcell (1659–1695) is acknowledged as one of England’s greatest composers and has been a source of inspiration for British composers ever since:  Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett and Peter Maxwell Davies are among those who have expressed their indebtedness to him.  Little is known about Purcell’s life beyond his official appointments and duties, but as a musician he excelled as a servant of the Court, the Church and the theatre, writing odes, welcome songs, sonatas, anthems, music for the liturgy and incidental music, and a series of operatic extravaganzas – including King Arthur and The Fairy Queen – which fascinated the London public during the 1690s. Born into a musical family, Purcell became a boy chorister at the Chapel Royal, where he was trained by Henry Cooke and Pelham Humfrey, and later, after his voice had broken, by John Blow at Westminster Abbey.  When Blow retired (or possibly was dismissed) from the Abbey in 1679, Purcell was appointed in his place, composing, directing and playing music at the services. The first half of the concert will feature three of Purcell’s most moving and beautiful Anthems, scored for five voice-parts including two soprano parts. ‘I was glad when they said unto me’ is a setting of words from Psalm 122, a text more likely to be familiar to audiences through Parry’s celebrated version.  Purcell’s anthem was composed in 1685 for the coronation of James II at Westminster Abbey on 23 April, when it was sung at the start of the service as the King and Queen made their entrance.  ‘I was glad’ is sectional in form, with a striking use of pictorialisms, including - for example - the dotted, trumpet-like flourish on ‘glad’ and the steady climbing motif on ‘We will go’.  Purcell’s setting of the words ‘world without end’ is especially impressive, with much imitation between the five voice-parts as well as against an augmented presentation in the basses.   ‘Remember not, Lord, our offences’ of 1680 sets words from the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer.  It opens and closes homophonically; by way of contrast, the central section uses double counterpoint to draw a precise emotional curve in which dissonances raise the tension to a climax. Our third Anthem, ‘Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes mei’ (words from Psalm 3) is one of the supreme examples of Purcell’s art.  It is not known why he should have set Latin Psalm texts - in his day these could never have been sung in Anglican services and it is unlikely that he would have been called on to compose for the Catholic chapels of the queens of Charles II and James II.  They may have arisen from a personal impulse in response to Italian music which had come his way.  ‘Jehova’ is a powerful masterpiece quite independent of the English anthem in plan, with some solo passages reminiscent of the Italian composer Carissimi.  It is striking both for the individuality of its harmonies (Elgar, when orchestrating it, enquired whether indeed some of these were right) and for its range of tonality. 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.
03.06.2019
Bury Bach Choir
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Charlotte makes her solo debut with the Bury Bach Choir The Bury Bach Choir is delighted that one of our own singers, soprano Charlotte Leeder, will make her major solo debut with the choir at our performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at The Apex on 15 June. Charlotte was born and raised in Bury St Edmunds and began singing in local choirs aged eleven, including the St Cecilia Chorale at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. She studied voice, achieving ABRSM Singing Grade 8 at sixteen, and continued to study voice and sing in the University Chamber Choir while reading for her mechanical engineering degree at the University of Bath. On returning to Bury St Edmunds, Charlotte focused on establishing a career in engineering while singing in local choirs, including the St Edmundsbury Singers at St Edmundsbury Cathedral and the Bury Bach Choir, enjoying small solo roles in Schubert’s Mass in G, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. Charlotte says ‘I sang Dido and Aeneas with the St Cecilia Chorale at St Edmundsbury Cathedral as a teenager and I loved it; to this day it’s still one of my favourite works. As the Spirit, I tell Aeneas that he has to leave Dido after she’s finally relinquished her heart to him, which is a pivotal moment in the plot. I get to be the harbinger of doom, which is great, it’s a lot of fun playing the bad guy!’ Eighteen months ago, Charlotte returned to vocal training, studying with mezzo-soprano Katharina Megli. Since then, she has performed in concert pieces including Cherubino’s aria ‘Non so più cosa son’ from The Magic Flute, ‘Oh had I Jubal’s lyre’ from Handel’s Joshua and The Letter Duet from Nikolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. ‘When our Music Director Philip Reed asked me to sing the role, naturally I was thrilled’, says Charlotte. ‘It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to sing it under his excellent direction, this time on a much larger scale with a professional orchestra and soloists’. We’re all looking forward to hearing Charlotte and wish her well with what could be an important early step in her professional singing career! 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 16 November 2019

7.30pm

The Apex, Charter Square

Brahms Requiem and The Armed Man

Tickets on sale now

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”. 

The Music Sales Charitable Trust

Major sponsor of the choir

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