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Tom Kelly

Tom became a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral aged 7 where he sang for six years under John Scott. He read Music at The University of Manchester where he studied with Martin Bussey. He was a Lay Clerk at Manchester Cathedral and a regular member of the Daily Service Singers on BBC Radio 4.

Since graduating, Tom has been a Lay Clerk of New College Oxford, and has sung with a range of professional choirs including Ex Cathedra, The Sixteen, La Nuova Musica, The Fieri Consort, Britten Sinfonia Voices, The Gabrieli Consort, and Chapelle du Roi. He looks forward to upcoming engagements with Polyphony and The Marian Consort.

As a soloist, Tom has regularly performed a range of concert works including Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Monteverdi’s Vespers, and a particular highlight has been performing the Evangelist of The St. John Passion.

On stage, Tom has performed the role of Jupiter in Semele, and the Mudlark in Mudlark Dances, a setting of music by Monteverdi commissioned as a groundbreaking touring opera for Spitalfields Music with performances designed specifically for babies aged 6 months to 2 years old.

Appearances with Chester Bach Singers

Graham McCusker

Graham was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Paisley. Born into a musical family (his father an opera singer with Scottish Opera and his mother a singing teacher) he began singing at the age of five as a chorister in the Paisley Abbey Choir. During his 16 years in the choir, he became Head Boy at the age of nine and a Choral Scholar at age 15. As a treble, Graham sang with the Scottish Opera Children’s Chorus in productions of The Queen of Spades, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Bohème, Tosca and Hansel and Gretel. He also played Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors and Miles in the RSAMD’s production of The Turn of the Screw. Whilst singing as a treble Graham also studied the piano, and when his voice changed, he continued with piano studies at the Junior RSAMD.
Graham gained a place at Douglas Academy Music School in Milngavie for his final two years of school, studying voice with Ruth Dean and piano with Anna Rastopchina. During this time he sang in many choirs, including The National Youth Chamber Choir of Scotland, Strathclyde University Chamber Choir, RSNO Chorus and the RSAMD Chamber Choir, with which he performed in such renowned venues as the Royal Albert Hall, the Usher Hall and Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Royal Concert Hall and City Halls in Glasgow, His Majesty’s Theatre and St Thomas’s Church in Leipzig. Shortly after completing his studies at Douglas Academy, Graham was offered a position as tutor with the Renfrewshire Schools Senior Choir.
In his second year at the Royal Northern College of Music he was chosen as one of the apostles to sing in performances at the Bridgewater Hall and in the proms at the Royal Albert Hall and which they made a recording of ‘The Apostles’ by Elgar. The CD got Gramophone recording of the year, amongst other awards, and No. 4 in the classical charts.
Recent highlights as a soloist include performing Handel’s Messiah with Chesterfield Choral Society, Beethoven no. 9th symphony with Salford Choral Society, Brahm’s German Requiem with critically acclaimed chamber choir Caledonian Voices and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with Southwell Choral Society. Graham also recently sang with Boy George and Clean bandit live on Radio 1 & 2 alongside the BBC Philharmonic.
On the opera stage Graham is recently played the role of Bogdanovich in the RNCM production of ‘The Merry Widow’ and is soon to play Oreste in Gluck’s ‘Iphigenie en Tauride’ in June in St. Andrew’s. Graham is currently on the Post Graduate Diploma course studying singing with Peter Alexander Wilson at the RNCM.

Appearances with Chester Bach Singers

24th January 2015: Come and Sing – Elgar’s The Music Makers

All Saints Church, Hoole, Chester CH2 3HZ

Join Chester Bach Singers with their conductor Martin Bussey, pianist Graham Eccles and mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse.

This is an opportunity for all singers, including members of church choirs, to rehearse and perform Elgar’s The Music Makers with Chester Bach Singers.

TIMETABLE

1.00 pm – 2.00 pm Singers to register, collect ordered music & be seated.
Tea and coffee available.
2.00 pm – 4.15 pm Rehearsal.
With Martin Bussey and Graham Eccles.
4.15 pm – 5.00pm Break.
Tea/coffee and cake in the church hall.
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm Performance.
Friends and family are welcome at no charge.

THE WORK – ELGAR’s THE MUSIC MAKERS

The Music Makers op. 69 is a cantata for contralto, choir and orchestra based on a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. It was commissioned for, and first performed at, the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival, 1912.

Elgar had been working on a setting of O’Shaughnessy’s Ode for some years already before the commission so it is reasonable to suppose that the poem really appealed to his nature.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams…

Later in his life Elgar was to write “I am still at heart that dreamy child who used to be found in the reeds by the Severn side with a sheet of paper trying to fix the sounds and longing for something very great. I am still looking for this.” In Elgar’s own words “the atmosphere of the music is mainly sad” yet, “there are moments of enthusiasm and bursts of joy occasionally approaching frenzy: moods which the creative artist suffers in creating or in contemplation of the unending influence of his creation. Yes suffers – this is the only word I dare use for even the highest ecstasy of ‘making’ is mixed with the consciousness of the sombre dignity of the eternity of the artist’s responsibility.” Much has been made of his use of quotations from his other works – Sea Pictures, Gerontius and Enigma Variations – but Elgar wrote in his original programme notes, “Please do not insist on the extent of the quotations…they form a very small part of the work. These musical quotations form, however, a significant part of the tapestry of The Music Makers.

The work is dedicated to one of Elgar’s dearest friends, Nicholas Kilburn, who exhorted performers to “Sing and play as though you were in dreamland and all will be well”.

GETTING THERE

This year we are holding our workshop at All Saints Church, Hoole (CH4 7HL). This is the church with the spire on Hoole Road, Chester. It has excellent facilities and is less than 10 minutes walk from Chester railway station. There is very limited parking at the church but we would like to save that for people with reduced mobility. Parking in the streets of Hoole is also possible but can be difficult at the weekend.

We are very grateful to Hoole United Reformed Church (CH2 3NT) for giving us permission to use its large car park for this event. The car park is on your right as you drive towards Chester. It is then only a 5-minute walk to All Saints. There will be car-parking attendants on duty and we ask that you make a donation of £2 towards the church’s programme of modernisation.

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FEES AND REFRESHMENTS

Workshop fee £18.00 (full-time students £10). This includes coffee/tea on arrival and tea/coffee and cake in the interval before the performance.

Hire copies of the Novello edition of Elgar’s The Music Makers can be ordered in advance for £2.00, collected at registration, and must be returned after the performance.

Regrettably, no refunds after 12 January 2015.

If you require further information, please contact Cath Glazzard by email to cath.glazzard[at]gmail.com or ring Cath Glazzard 01244 383746, Margaret Newman 01829 770104 or Maire Gibson 01829 720283

To make a booking, please download the Elgar Music Makers booking form and send, together with a cheque made payable to Chester Bach Singers, to:

Chester Bach Singers
The Firs
Wervin
CHESTER
CH2 4BP

20th December 2014: Carols by Candlelight – A Celtic Christmas (Handbridge)

Saturday 20 December 2014 7.30 pm

St Mary’s, Handbridge, Chester CH4 7HL

Chester Bach Singers’ Carols by Candlelight Concerts combine atmospheric Celtic music with more traditional and well known Christmas favourites. Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Basque carols will be performed by the choir interspersed with popular Christmas carols for choir and audience.

Retiring collection in aid of Wirral Hospice St John’s.

Tickets: £11 including refreshments

 

14th December 2014: Carols by Candlelight – A Celtic Christmas (Tattenhall)

Sunday 14 December 2014 7.30pm

St Alban’s Church, Tattenhall CH3 9QE

Chester Bach Singers’ Carols by Candlelight Concerts combine atmospheric Celtic music with more traditional and well known Christmas favourites. Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Basque carols will be performed by the choir interspersed with popular Christmas carols for choir and audience.

Retiring collection in aid of Wirral Hospice St John’s.

Tickets: £11 including refreshments

8th November 2014: For M is Musick

Saturday 8 November 2014 7.30pm

Wesley Church Centre, Chester CH1 1DA

For M is Musick

This concert will feature pieces that weave through the renaissance of English Choral Music that emerged from the late 19th century with works of Stanford, Elgar, Naylor and Bairstow, published in the first decades of the 20th century and show how these have influenced later, more modern works. For example, the title for the concert, For M is Musick, comes from Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, a cantata first published in 1943 which sets extracts of a eccentric poem by eighteenth century clergyman, Christopher Smart to the new irregular rhythmic motifs made notorious by Stravinsky earlier in the 20th century. This is particularly challenging in the fast section about ‘Nimrod, the mighty hunter’ which changes time signature in nearly every bar based around groupings of five notes – very difficult to count but once learnt, this passage stays with the singer forever! Musically, however, the shape of the work derives much from the anthems of Henry Purcell from the seventeenth century, with its ‘verse’ sections for solo singers from the choir and the recurring ‘Hallelujah’ section. And there are other connections between Purcell and the other works in what promises to be an exciting and diverse programme:

Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb
Stanford: 3 Motets (Beati quorum, Coelos ascendit, Justorum animae)
Bairstow: Let all Mortal Flesh
Elgar: Give unto the Lord
Tavener: Ikon of St Cuthbert
Naylor: Vox dicentis
Howells: Requiem
Whitacre: Sleep

Adults £12
Under 18s £5

 

10th September 2014: 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, 10th September, 2014 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 focussing on Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb plus other pieces that will feature in our November concert.

5th September 2014: Joint Concert with Le Voci

Friday, 5th September, 2014, 8pm

Venue: St Mary’s Centre, Chester, CH1 2DW

Norway comes to Chester! Le Voci (from Oslo) in a joint concert with Chester Bach Singers. English and Scandinavian songs and madrigals, including:

  • Rutter: Sprig of Thyme
  • Hovland: Karin Boye
  • Grieg: Ave Maris Stella
  • Havroy: Noringen
  • Elgar: As Torrents in Summer
  • Lindberg: Shall I compare Thee
  • Stanford: Heraclitus
  • Mantyjarvi: Come Away Death

£10 adults
£5 Under 16s and students

14th June 2014 : Bravo for Bach!

Saturday, 14th June 2014  7.30pm

Venue: St. John’s Church, Vicars Lane, Chester, CH1 1SN

Bach-themed concert including Magnificat, Air on a G String and Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. With members of the 18th Century Concert Orchestra in costume.

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Soprano: Amy Wood
Alto: Abigail Thompson
Tenor: Thomas Kelly
Bass: James Berry

17th May 2014 : Here be Pirates!

Saturday, 17th May 2014 (all day, 11am to 5pm)

Welsh Presbytarian Church, St John Street, Chester, CH1 1DA

An all-day celebration of Pirates in music and words with Martin Bussey and the Chester Bach Singers, including an opportunity to rehearse and perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’

Chester Bach Singers invite you to join them in an all day celebration of Pirates in words and music. They begin the day with a coffee concert of music and readings, including the CBS Glee club. After lunch join the Chester Bach Singers to sing choruses from Gilbert and Sullivan’s rollicking comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance.

We need a chorus (that’s YOU and choir members) of pirates, policemen and Major General’s daughters who can keep up with the patter of ‘I Am the Very Model of A Modern Major General’ and can lift the roof off with a rousing ‘With Catlike Tread’. Previous experience of choral singing is not essential and everyone is welcome, although the ability to read music score is desirable.

Tickets:
£12 – Adults (all day)
£5 – Children and full-time students (all day)
£2 – Hire of score
£5 – Performance of Pirates Penzance only

Ticket price includes tea and coffee all day. Please ring to reserve a hire copy or to purchase tickets in advance. Tel: 01244 383746 or 01244 538586. Alternatively, please complete the enquiry form at the bottom of this page.

Timetable for the day:

11.00 – 12.00 Coffee Concert
12.15 – 1.00 Lunch break (Bring your own or use one of the many local
cafés in the town centre)
1.00 Collect scores for Pirates of Penzance
1.15 – 2.30 Chorus rehearsal of Pirates of Penzance
2.30 – 2.45 Break
2.45 – 3.40 Performance Act 1
2.45 – 3.40 Interval (Home-made cake will be available to buy)
4.10 – 5.00 Performance Act 2