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.


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.


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.


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.


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.