Category Archives: Past Concerts

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

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

Feedback – Mar2014

Just to say how much we enjoyed the last concert. The Vaughan Williams was the first choral piece I ever sang, 43 years ago as a young teacher in Nigeria. Haven’t heard it since so it was very nostalgic.
Also thought Martin’s piece was great. So quirky and lively and reachable. Glad I wasn’t doing the piano duet – looked hard!
– Greg and Anne Yates

15th March 2014 : The Springtime of the Year

Springtime_concertSaturday, 15th March 2014  7.30pm

Venue: Wesley Methodist Church, St. John Street, Chester, CH1 1DA


Vaughan Williams: Five English Folk Songs
Rutter: The Sprig of Thyme
Bussey: The Pied Piper

Tickets £12 (£11 concessions, £5 children)


Conductor: Martin Bussey

Countertenor: James Neville

Baritone: Andrew Davies

With the Choir of St David’s High School, Saltney trained by Lauren Faulkner as the children in The Pied Piper.

Pianists: Catherine Barnett and Nicholas Oliver

Flute: Martin Hoffman

Percussion: Ed Cervenka and David Lewis

English folk music lovers will have an opportunity to enjoy the music of John Rutter and Ralph Vaughan Williams at Chester Bach Singers’ Spring Concert. The choir will perform a collection of John Rutter’s folksongs known as The Sprig of Thyme. These short folksongs are performed by different arrangements of voices to create a beautifully harmonious sound that harps back to traditional England. Alongside this the choir will perform Five English Folk Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was fascinated by the beauty of folksong and music. They will be joined for the second part of the evening by the Choir of St David’s High School, Saltney in a performance of Martin Bussey’s The Pied Piper. This lively choral work for soloists, choir and children’s choir was first performed in 1987.

Tickets: £12