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21st January 2017: Come and Sing Brahms Requiem

Saturday 21 January 2017

All Saints Church, Hoole, Chester CH2 3HZ

Our annual choral workshop is an opportunity for all singers, to rehearse and perform Brahms’ Requiem (in English) with Chester Bach Singers.

TIMETABLE

12.30pm – 1.30pm Tea and coffee available. Singers to register, collect ordered music & be seated. Soup with bread will be served from 12.30 – 1.15 but must be pre-ordered and paid for in advance.
1.30pm – 4.15pm Rehearsal with Martin Bussey and piano duet (there will be a short “comfort” break during this session)
4.15pm – 5.00pm Break. Tea/coffee and cake in the church hall
5.00pm – 6.30pm Performance. Friends and family are welcome at no charge.

THE WORK

Brahms’ German Requiem is one of the great choral works of the nineteenth century. Brahms’ setting is unique. He combines the structural genius of a great symphony writer with his lesser-known but equally great powers as a melody writer. Brahms wrote songs throughout his life and was frequently involved in working with choirs, understanding the human voice with great insight. This is particularly apparent in the beautiful fifth movement for Soprano solo which he wrote after the first performance of the work, reflecting, like much of the work, the death of his mother. Brahms’ symphonic approach is much in evidence in the second movement, which takes on the form of a funeral march with voices of the top seemingly reciting the text ‘All flesh is as grass’. Its steady tread is then replaced by the dramatic announcement by the chorus that ‘the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.’ The fourth movement of the Requiem is probably the best known, its English translation ‘How lovely are thy dwellings fair’ indicating the lyrical beauty, which is its hallmark. At several points in the work Brahms’ German heritage is apparent in complex fugal writing, such as the sixth movement, where the influence of Bach and earlier composers is apparent. Brahms contrives to begin and end the work with similar music, emphasising the word ‘blessed’ in a serene and reflective atmosphere.

These unique qualities have long made Brahms’ setting a popular one with singers and audiences. Although many people have an image of Brahms as an old man with a beard, early portraits reveal a vigorous and determined figure, a virtuoso concert pianist with a determination to be a worthy successor of his idol, Beethoven. This vigour informs many sections of the Requiem. The Requiem is best known as a work for large chorus and orchestra. However, for the workshop, we shall be accompanied on the organ by Graham Eccles, who is wellknown to Chester Audiences. Our soprano soloist for the workshop will be Léonie Maxwell, who will be remembered for her fine singing at last year’s Come and Sing Haydn Nelson Mass and also for her sensitive interpretations of Kenneth Leighton’s Crucifixus Pro Nobis and her wonderful performances of songs by C. Hubert Parry, Roger Quilter and Michael Head in October’s concert The Poet’s Voice. She will be joined by James Berry, baritone, for whom this is the first time singing with Chester Bach Singers. We welcome him warmly.

GETTING THERE

This year we are holding our workshop at All Saints Church, Hoole (CH2 3HZ). This is the church with the spire on Hoole Road, Chester. It has excellent facilities and is about 10 minutes walk from Chester railway station. There is limited parking at the church but we would like to save that for people with reduced mobility. There is also parking in the streets around the church as well as a number of small car parks. Unfortunately, this year we shall be unable to use the car park at the United Reformed Church in Hoole, as it is the induction of their new minister on that day.

FEES AND REFRESHMENTS

Workshop fee £15 (full-time students £10). This includes coffee/tea on arrival and tea/coffee and home-made cake in the interval before the performance.

We will be serving home-made Soup with bread from 12.30-1.15 but this must be pre-ordered and paid for in advance (£3.00).

We shall be using the Novello edition of the score with text in English by Ivor Atkins. Hire copies can be ordered in advance for £2.00, collected at registration, and must be returned after the performance.

Regrettably, no refunds after 9th January 2017.

17th December 2016: Carols by Candlelight (Handbridge)

Saturday 17 December 2016 7.30 pm

St Mary’s, Handbridge, Chester CH4 7HL

Tickets: £12 adults; £5 students and under 18s. Includes seasonal refreshments.

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Carols by Candlelight

Joined by Movers Shakers, the choir of the NeuroTherapy Centre, Chester.

Chester Bach Singers once again provides the perfect mix of old and new, the familiar and the less well known, in its accompaniment to the Christmas season. Carols for all to sing are mixed with several carols which proved a hit last year such as Will Todd’s My Lord has come, Thomas Hewitt-Jones’ What child is this? And Matthew Owens’ The Holly and the Ivy. Chester Bach Singers Conductor Martin Bussey has composed a new setting of Unto us is born a son for the 40th Season Chester Bach Season Christmas. There is a focus in the programme on the Christmas music of Peter Warlock – a man who was an expert on the boozier side of Christmas, being well acquainted with all the pubs from London southwards (although Warlock’s naked motorcycling is unlikely to feature in the programme). Warlock’s most famous carol is the beautiful Bethlehem Down and this is featured alongside the lively Benedicamus Domino and his setting of Adam lay ybounden.

Retiring collection in aid of:
singing_brain_300

11th December 2016: Carols by Candlelight (Tattenhall)

Sunday 11 December 2016 7.30pm

St Alban’s Church, Tattenhall CH3 9QE and

Tickets: £12 adults; £5 students and under 18s. Includes seasonal refreshments.

Buy Tickets

Carols by Candlelight

Chester Bach Singers once again provides the perfect mix of old and new, the familiar and the less well known, in its accompaniment to the Christmas season. Carols for all to sing are mixed with several carols which proved a hit last year such as Will Todd’s My Lord has come, Thomas Hewitt-Jones’ What child is this? And Matthew Owens’ The Holly and the Ivy. Chester Bach Singers Conductor Martin Bussey has composed a new setting of Unto us is born a son for the 40th Season Chester Bach Season Christmas. There is a focus in the programme on the Christmas music of Peter Warlock – a man who was an expert on the boozier side of Christmas, being well acquainted with all the pubs from London southwards (although Warlock’s naked motorcycling is unlikely to feature in the programme). Warlock’s most famous carol is the beautiful Bethlehem Down and this is featured alongside the lively Benedicamus Domino and his setting of Adam lay ybounden.

Retiring collection in aid of
singing_brain_300

6th November 2016: Gladstone Workshop Performance

Sunday 6th November 3pm

St Deiniol’s Church, Church Lane, Hawardan, Deeside, CH5 3LT

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Join Chester Bach Singers for a short, informal concert of music set in the lovely church of St Deiniol’s in Hawardan, near Gladstone’s Library. Chester Bash Singers is spending the weekend at Gladstone’s library exploring the music of Palestrina, Warlock and Moeran. Plus the premiere of Martin Bussey‘s setting of Gladstone’s Latin translation of the Hymn ‘Rock of Ages’. To end the workshop, we will be performing some of the pieces in the wonderful setting of St Deiniol’s Church. Entry is free and any donations will go to our supported charity, the Alzheimer’s Society ‘Singing for the Brain’.singing_brain_300

Free admission

22nd October 2016: The Poet’s Voice

the-poets-voice-22-oct-2016Saturday 22 October 2016 7.30pm

All Saints Church, Hoole, Chester CH2 3HZ

The Poet’s Voice Poetical and musical collaborations.

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Accompanist: Neil Taylor

Tickets: £12 adults; £5 students and under 18s.

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Highlights include:

  • Britten/Herbert Antiphon
  • Stanford/M Coleridge The Bluebird
  • Ralph and Ursula Vaughan Williams Silence and Music
  • Harris/Donne Bring us O Lord God
  • Leighton/Herbert Let all the world

The first concert of Chester Bach Singers 40th Season takes as its focus the work of well-known English poets and explores how composers have set their words. There is a mix of sacred music and non-sacred, although all can be described as having a strong spiritual and reflective element. The composers range across  Stanford, Harris, Vaughan Williams, Britten, and Leighton. The chosen poets include Tennyson, Donne, Herbert, and Coleridge. The concert includes a particular focus on the 17th century George Herbert, with settings to begin and end the concert of one of his most famous poems, Let All The World In Every Corner Sing. Accompanied by Neil Taylor, Director of the St George’s Singers and formerly Organist of Sheffield Cathedral, the concert includes a wide variety of styles.

14th September 2016: OPEN REHEARSAL

Why not join Chester Bach Singers for an open rehearsal at our rehearsal venue? Sing with us for the evening or just come along and watch. You will be very welcome. No need to book but if you would like more information, contact the choir or join us on facebook.

We welcome singers of all abilities to our open rehearsal on Wednesday, 14th September, 2016 at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start at the Music Department, Kings School, Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QL. Music will be provided on loan for the evening. The rehearsal will finish by 9.45pm.

We will be rehearsing music for our October concert.

4th Sept 2016: Gladfest 2016

Sunday 4th September 2016, 4pm

Gladstone’s Library, Church Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire CH5 3DF

Gladfest 2016

Chester Bach Singers has been invited to give a short recital at Gladfest 2016 – the UK’s friendliest literary festival held at Gladstone’s Library in North Wales. As part of our celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Bronte sisters, we will be reprising some of the works performed at our concert, Charlotte and her Sisters.

We will be performing in the Market Place at 4pm on the Sunday afternoon which has free entry and will also be showcasing the best local designers and contemporary crafts.

10th July 2016 Garden Party at Hartsheath

This summer we will be holding a Summer Garden Party and Cream Tea very kindly hosted by Peter and Johanna Kaufmann at Hartsheath, nr. Pontblyddyn, as part of our fundraising activities.  Choir members, friends and family will be very welcome to join us between 2pm and 5pm on Sunday, 10th July 2016.

There will be something for everyone whether young or old!

  • Cream Tea
  • Bring and buy stall
  • Outdoor games
  • Quiz/treasure hunt
  • Summer bonnet competition (with prizes for the best child and best adult)
  • House tours (limited numbers, book on arrival, extra cost)

Please bring your own picnic chairs / blankets to sit on. There will be cover if the weather is inclement.

Tickets £10; £5 for children under 12; free for children under 5

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For help, additional information or other queries, phone 01244 470 890.

Directions: (Sat Nav Postcode CH7 4HP) Hartsheath is only about 15 minutes from Chester. From the A55, leave at J35A (for Penyffordd) onto the A5104. After about 1 ½ miles, at the Penymynydd roundabout turn left onto the A550 towards Wrexham, then at the next roundabout rejoin A5104 towards Corwen and Pontblyddyn. At the Pontblyddyn crossroads, turn left towards Wrexham (A541), leave the village and after the 40mph sign, on a bend just before you go into the wood, fork left at the red brick lodge (before you reach the dual carriageway). Follow the drive to the top and park along the back road that leads left, away from the house.

The House

Hartsheath is a Georgian mansion house tucked away alongside the river Alyn just outside Pontblyddyn on the road to Wrexham from Mold. The present house was built in 1825 as a fitting home for the Director of the short-lived Welsh Iron and Coal Mining Company. The architect, Charles Mathews, worked for a while in John Nash’s London office and was a little-known pupil of A. C. Pugin. He created a grand and imposing house, using the remains of a previous building on the site. However, the extravagant demands of the Director contributed to the eventual bankruptcy of the company. The experience also put an end to Mathews’ architectural career: as you can see from his portrait in the drawing room, he went on to become a comic actor. Hartsheath was his first and only house: he later expressed regret that it was still standing as testament to his youthful folly!

The formal rooms at Hartsheath were designed to entertain. The large dining room is lined with family portraits, almost as if the ancestors were joining you for dinner. The drawing room’s trompe l’oeil wallpaper dating from 1841 features the pineapple, a symbol of warmth, welcome and hospitality. This room, with Regency furniture, also boasts two grand pianos – sadly not as tuneful as they might be. Charles Mathews, in costume, gazes down on his creation. Marble chimney-pieces are a feature of the interior, with a further grand piano in the entrance hall and a staircase rising four flights to a glass cupola which lets the light pour in from above.

hartsheathThe grey stone building is set in a hundred acres of parkland, with many fine trees. There is an extensive garden, woodland by the river, and a sunken path which separates the grounds from the park. This was created so that servants could pass the house outside without being seen from within, but now purports to attempt to prevent sheep getting into the garden to graze!

Around 1830 the house was acquired by John Carstairs, formerly High Sheriff of Huntingdon, Fellow of the Royal Society and a London merchant, for his daughter, Cecil, who was married to Wilson Jones, the great great great grandfather of the present owner. Cecil was previously living at Gelli Gynan at Llanarmon-yn Ial, a day’s journey further into Wales, and felt that the delights of Chester and London were altogether too far away! Many of the family have been members of the armed services in various capacities from the Occupation of Paris in 1815 through the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny to both World Wars. During the Second World War the house was requisitioned and used as a drawing office by cartographers preparing for the Normandy Landings and also used as a hospital for venereal diseases! Hartsheath continues to be a much-loved family home and we hope you enjoy your visit.

Come and Sing Yeoman of the Guard

7th May 2016: Come and Sing Gilbert and Sullivan

Saturday 7 May 2016

St Mary’s Centre, St Mary’s Hill, Chester CH1 2DW

Chester Bach Singers invite you to join them for a fun afternoon of singing and a scratch performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard.

The opera is set in the Tower of London, during the 16th century, and is the darkest, and perhaps most emotionally engaging, of the Savoy Operas, ending with a broken-hearted main character and two very reluctant engagements, rather than the usual numerous marriages. The libretto does contain considerable humour, including a lot of pun-laden one-liners, but Gilbert’s trademark satire and topsy-turvy plot complications are subdued in comparison with the other Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The dialogue, though in prose, is quasi-Shakespearian, or early modern English, in style (from ‘The Yeomen of the Guard’, https://en.wikipedia.org/ [last visited Apr. 6, 2016]).

Book here!To make a booking, please use our on-line booking system. You may pay online (credit or debit card) or on the door (cash or cheque only).

TIMETABLE

12.00 pm – 1.00 pm Lunch (optional).
Tea and coffee available.
1.00 pm – 1.15 pm Singers to register, collect hire copies & be seated.
1.15 pm – 3.00 pm Chorus rehearsal
3.00 pm – 3.30 pm Tea/coffee and home-made cake
3.30 pm – 5.30 pm Informal performance of Yeomen of the Guard.

VENUE AND PARKING

We are holding this event at St Mary’s Centre, St Mary’s Hill, Chester. To avoid any confusion that might arise, this is not the church in Handbridge where we hold one of our Christmas concerts each year but the former church behind the Crown Court (Chester Castle) opposite the ABODE Hotel on the ‘Grosvenor Roundabout’.

There are a number of paying car parks near to the venue, including the Crown Court car park, which is open to the public on Saturday. The Little Roodee Car Park is a short, 5-10 minute walk away and the Wrexham Road (number 33) Park and Ride service drops off close to the venue and provides a convenient alternative to parking in Chester.

FEES AND REFRESHMENTS

The fees for the date are:

Singers £10.00 (this includes tea/coffee and home-made cake)

Score Hire £2.00

Lunch £3.00 – between 12 noon and 1pm there will be the option to have a light lunch consisting of home-made soup and a breadroll. This must be pre-booked.

Audience £5.00 (friends and family who would like to come to the performance starting at 3.30pm should arrive between 3.00pm and 3.30pm and will be welcome to join us for tea/coffee and cake, which is included in the fee)

Book here!To make a booking, please use our on-line booking system. You may pay online (credit or debit card) or on the door (cash or cheque only).

If you require further information, please contact Cath Glazzard by email to cath.glazzard[at]gmail.com or ring Cath Glazzard 01244 383746 or Margaret Newman 01829 770104.

Charlotte_and_her_Sisters_Poster

11th June 2016: Charlotte and her Sisters

Saturday 11 June 2016 7.30 pm

The Queen’s School, City Walls Rd, Chester CH1 2NN

Mezzo-soprano: Joyce Tindsley

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Join Chester Bach Singers to celebrate 200 years since Charlotte Brontë was born in Haworth Parsonage. Together with her sisters, Emily and Anne, Charlotte produced some of the most enduring English stories and poems. Chester Bach Singers will explore the lives of the three sisters and then re-trace the gripping narrative of Charlotte’s most famous work, Jane Eyre.

 

The Brontë Sisters (Anne Brontë; Emily Brontë; Charlotte Brontë) by Patrick Branwell Brontë oil on canvas, circa 1834 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Brontë sisters, immortalised in the famous, incomplete picture of them painted by their brother, Branwell, lived their lives for the most part in the newly industrialised village of Haworth, to which the natural beauty of the moors formed both a backdrop and means of escape. It’s no surprise that nature plays a significant part in their writing and this is reflected in the imagery in much of the music in the concert, for example in Sterndale Bennett’s (also born in 1816) setting of Christopher Marlowe:

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove.
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

The sisters’ background as daughters of the Parsonage is reflected in Goss’ If we believe that Jesus died. Their home entertainment, singing and playing Scottish ballads and folk songs, is represented in music by Schumann and Bantock. Their trail-blazing achievements in developing their individual voices as published women writers in the mid-nineteenth century, typical of their focus on individual liberty, is reflected in Martin Bussey’s settings of Emily Brontë, No coward soul is mine and Riches I hold in light esteem. These songs, from the cycle A Chainless soul, will be sung by our guest for the evening, distinguished mezzo Joyce Tindsley.

The story of Charlotte’s Jane Eyre encompasses many themes drawn from the sisters’ experiences and from daily life in Victorian England, as well as reflecting key themes in Romantic literature, art and music. Her early experiences at Lowood School, particularly the deaths of her contemporaries, are marked in the beautiful music of Pearsall’s Lay a garland; her passionate yet unequal relationship with the brooding Mr Rochester, by love songs and choral music by Schumann; the disaster of their interrupted wedding by an excerpt from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore; the strong Christian moral element which runs throughout Charlotte’s work is represented by Vaughan Williams’ Valiant for Truth, memorably setting lines from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Many of these themes come together in Brahms’ beautiful Alto Rhapsody, an extended work, written after the Brontës were dead but which sets a text, by Goethe, with which they may well have been familiar.  Here Joyce Tindsley will be accompanied by the men of Chester Bach Singers and regular Chester Bach Singers accompanist Catherine Barnett.

Throughout the evening, excerpts from the Brontë’s writings read by Joyce Tindsley and Alan Tiltman, including poetry by Emily and Anne, will link with the music to form a continuous experience – come and immerse yourself in the unique world of the Brontë sisters!