Category Archives: Past Concerts

27th February 2016: Haydn and CPE Bach

Saturday 27 February 2016 7.30 pm

St Mary’s Without-the-Walls, Handbridge, Chester CH4 7HL

Haydn Nelson Mass and CPE Bach Magnificat with orchestra.

Conductor: Martin Bussey
Soprano: Cally Youdell
Alto: Joanna Harries
Tenor: Thomas Kelly
Bass: Andrew Davies

Adults £15
Students and Under 18s £5

THE WORKS

HAYDN’S NELSON MASS

We don’t know for sure how Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis, which can be translated “Mass in times of trouble and fear”, came to be known as Nelson Mass but, in 1798, when Haydn wrote it, Europe was embroiled in the Napoleonic wars and times were certainly troubled. The news that Napoleon had been defeated in the Battle of the Nile by British Forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson came just at the time of the first performance of this work and, in the mood of the time, it became known popularly as the Nelson Mass. In 1800 Nelson and Lady Hamilton visited the Esterházy palace and may even have heard the work performed. Haydn’s biographer H. C. Robbins Landon writes that this mass is “arguably Haydn’s greatest single composition”.

CPE BACH’S MAGNIFICAT

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the second surviving son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, and his first wife, Maria Barbara. The most famous and prolific of the Bach sons, he was educated with his brother Wilhelm Friedemann who was four years older, at a Lutheran seminary in Cöthen, and later in Leipzig at the Thomasschule where his father was Cantor of St. Thomas’ Church. It is said that from the age of eleven he could play all his father’s keyboard pieces at sight. He studied law at the Universities of Leipzig and Frankfurt where he financially supported himself by giving keyboard lessons and by composing for or directing public concerts. In later years he held positions of great influence in Berlin and Hamburg and was widely esteemed as a keyboard player and theorist.

It was during his Berlin years that, in 1749, he composed his only important church work, the Magnificat. It takes its text from Mary’s canticle from St. Luke’s Gospel (Chapter 1, v. 46–55) and according to a pupil at the Thomasschule it was performed in Leipzig while his father was still alive – sometime before the end of July 1750. The work contains a number of unmistakable borrowings from his father’s Magnificat: the melodies in the Fecit potentium and Deposuit are, for example, almost identical. However, the choruses take second place to the solo vocal numbers (which quantitatively, too, predominate) with their lyrical, faintly opera-like elements. Nevertheless, the final chorus, Sicut erat in principio, has a recurring theme which has often been compared with that of the Kyrie in Mozart’s Requiem, finally concluding with an extended Amen, 183 bars long.

Adults £15
Students and Under 18s £5

19th December 2015: Carols by Candlelight

2015 Carol Concert LeafletSaturday 19 December 2015 7.30 pm

St Mary’s Church, Handbridge, Chester
CH4 7H
Thinking of refreshing your Christmas tree ornaments this year?  Chester Bach Singers looks forward to giving audiences fresh sparkle and colour in its 2015 Christmas concerts as it presents new arrangements of much-loved carols alongside the best of newly-composed carols by some of the most tuneful and appealing choral composers around.

Come along and enjoy Bob Chilcott’s new foot-tapping arrangement of On Christmas Night all Christians Sing, alongside Paul Leddington Wright’s energetic version of We Three Kings of Orient are and Mack Wilberg’s tinsel-laden background to Ding Dong! Merrily on high.  These are set alongside Chester-born composer Howard Skempton’s There is no rose, Will Todd’s jazz-harmonised My Lord is come and Thomas Hewitt-Jones’ hauntingly beautiful carol What Child is this.  All combined with the customary traditional carols for you to join in.

In the first half of our Handbridge concert this year, CBS is delighted to be joined by the Movers and Shakers Choir from the Neuro Therapy Centre, Chester.  This partnership signals a new venture in joining with other groups in the community in a practical way to share music making.  As well as enjoying the choir’s own music under the direction of Pam Newton, CBS and the Movers and Shakers will end the first half with a joint rendition of Irving Berlin’s evergreen White Christmas – and we expect to hear the audience crooning along!

 

This year our retiring collection will be in aid of:

the_neuro_therapy_centre_logo

The Neuro Therapy Centre

donate_to_neuro_therapy_centre

Donate to the Neuro Therapy Centre Chester

13th December 2015: Carols by Candlelight

2015 Carol Concert Leaflet

Sunday 13 December 2015 7.30 pm

St Alban’s Church, Tattenhall CH3 9QE

Thinking of refreshing your Christmas tree ornaments this year?  Chester Bach Singers looks forward to giving audiences fresh sparkle and colour in its 2015 Christmas concerts as it presents new arrangements of much-loved carols alongside the best of newly-composed carols by some of the most tuneful and appealing choral composers around.

Come along and enjoy Bob Chilcott’s new foot-tapping arrangement of On Christmas Night all Christians Sing, alongside Paul Leddington Wright’s energetic version of We Three Kings of Orient are and Mack Wilberg’s tinsel-laden background to Ding Dong! Merrily on high.  These are set alongside Chester-born composer Howard Skempton’s There is no rose, Will Todd’s jazz-harmonied My Lord is come and Thomas Hewitt-Jones’ hauntingly beautiful carol What Child is this.  All combined with the customary traditional carols for you to join in.

 

This year our retiring collection will be in aid of:

the_neuro_therapy_centre_logo

The Neuro Therapy Centre

donate_to_neuro_therapy_centre

Donate to the Neuro Therapy Centre Chester

Poster for October 2015 Concert

24th October 2015: Music for Remembrance

Saturday 24 October 2015 7.30pm

St Werburgh’s Church, Chester CH1 1QJ

Music for Remembrance including Duruflé’s Requiem and Parry’s Songs of Farewell.

Remembrance is very much the theme for our first concert of the 2015-16 Season which continues the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War with a moving concert of Music for Remembrance in the run-up to Armistice Day.

Duruflé’s Requiem is an ethereal and stunningly beautiful work. Interestingly, in 1976, Duruflé and his wife gave an organ recital in Chester Cathedral as part of the celebrations on the completion of the organ rebuild. We wonder if any of you were there?

By contrast, Hermione Roff’s Anthem of Loss is a more contemporary take on the same conflict. A former member of the Chester Bach Singers, Hermione, who now lives in Lancashire, wrote the piece especially for a WWI centenary concert at Lancaster Priory last year. Chester Bach Singers are very much looking forward to performing her composition and are delighted that she plans to be at the concert.

The programme will also include Hubert Parry’s Songs of Farewell. Composed towards the end of Parry´s life, and in the midst of the conflict and desolation of the Great War, Songs of Farewell is a series of motets set to poems by some of the greatest British poets such as Henry Vaughan and John Donne, and is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of unaccompanied choral writing.

The choir will be joined by Graham Eccles on organ and Ruth Watson for the oboe solo in Anthem of Loss.

CBS Big Sing

13th June 2015: The Big CBS Sing

Saturday 13 June 2015, 7.30pm

St John’s Church, Chester CH1 1SN

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Chester Bach Singers, joined by former members, present a celebration concert of choral classics including Zadok the Priest and Hallelujah Chorus.

Tickets £12 (audience)

Tickets for ex-CBS members (to participate) £5

 

28th March 2015: Bach Mass in B Minor

Chester Cathedral, CH1 2DY

Conductor: Martin Bussey
Soprano: Rebecca Lea
Alto: Katie Bray
Tenor: Tom Kelly
Bass: Graham McCusker

With the 18th Century Sinfonia.

Bach composed the Mass in B Minor towards the end of his life although, in reality, it is a compendium of a number of earlier works combined with compositions designed to complete a full mass setting.  The earlier works include movements composed for the Mass text, for example the Sanctus, but others, for example, Et resurrexit, have been shown to have their origin in non-religious music, such as concertos.  This should come as no surprise, as the eighteenth century convention was to write music for performance without an assumption that the music would be heard again in its original form.  Such borrowings are common in other well-known works of the time, including Handel’s Messiah.  We owe much to Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emmanuel and, in the nineteenth century, Mendelssohn, for ensuring the survival of the work and its gradual re-introduction into frequent performance.

There is a stylistic continuity in the mass because each movement speaks in Bach’s voice.  The diversity of styles reflects the diverse interests of the composer.  Thus the opening movement of the Credo and it’s Confiteor towards the end are fugal movements with plainsong as their basis – perhaps the ‘strict’ style associated with Bach’s organ music.  Other movements sound much more operatic, such as the Laudamus te.  There is much florid writing for the choral voices, demanding coloratura (‘runs’ for the voice) technique of a very high level which reflects Bach’s interest in Italian opera.  Within such diversity there is often much careful scaffolding in terms of musical structure – the Credo has been shown to have an overall arch-like structure which lends its varied movements convincing shape.

The use of orchestra and voices in the mass is one of its strongest features.  Once again, diversity is the key.  The choral movements employ between four and eight-part writing (the Osanna movement) with a characteristic use of two soprano lines in many movements to give a rich, five-part texture overall.  The trumpets and drums are often a key feature of the choral movements, lending brilliance and sonority.  Other movements make striking use of wind instruments, for example the oboe in Qui sedes and the flutes in Crucifixus.  Underpinning these are the strings, which move between doubling the voices and providing strong rhythmic drive in many choral and solo movements.

Tickets: £18, £12 and £6
(students and children £5)

Tickets on line from Chester Cathedral Ticket Office

Tickets can also be bought direct from choir members or Angela Parfitt – please use this form to make an ticket enquiry:

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

 

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