Category Archives: Past Events

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.


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 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”.


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.


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.

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.

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.

£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


19th March 2014: Brush up your vocal technique workshop

Wednesday 19th March
7.30pm for 7.45pm start
Music Department, King’s School, Wrexham Rd, Chester CH4 7QL

Open to any singers . Free of charge. No need to book.

We will not be singing any particular repertoire but, if you have a copy of European Sacred Music edited by John Rutter (OUP), bring it along.

Hope to see you there!

25th January 2014 : Choral Workshop

One Day Choral Workshop on Verdi’s Sacred Work and Opera With Justin Doyle (Opera North and Manchester Chamber Choir)

Saturday, 25th January 2014

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

Join Chester Bach Singers for their annual singing workshop – please book by 11th January 2014

Justin Doyle is Principal Conductor of Manchester Chamber Choir and Musical Director of Opera North Children’s Chorus; he has recently been appointed Artistic Director of the period-instrument Retrospect Ensemble. Justin is particularly known for his conducting of opera, including works by Bizet, Gluck, Donizetti, Handel, Humperdinck, Haydn, Kodály, Mozart, Purcell and Strauss for companies including Eastern Opera, Opera North and English Touring Opera. His recent “lithe and colourful” conducting of Albert Herring for Opera North met with critical acclaim.

Born in Lancaster, Justin Doyle was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and studied at King’s College, Cambridge. He won second prize in the prestigious Cadaqués Orchestra Conducting Competition from over 180 conductors worldwide and was awarded the first Conductor Fellowship with the BBC Singers. Recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestra of Opera North, Northern Sinfonia, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, New London Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, the Harmony of Nations period instrument ensemble, Rodolfus Choir, EXAUDI vocal ensemble, regular broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and a cover CD for BBC Music Magazine.

The music to be studied on the day will include Verdi’s Sacred works –

  • Ave Maria (Quattro pezzi sacri)
  • Stabat mater (Quattro pezzi sacri) (scores can be hired)

as well as some of Verdi’s greatest operatic choruses –

  • Fuoco di gioia (Otello)
  • Patria oppressa (Macbeth)
  • Spuntato ecco il dì d’esultanza (Don Carlo, Auto-da-fé)
  • Va, pensiero (Nabucco)

all in Italian. Justin has marked up copies of the opera choruses and these are available free to download from this website – a link will be emailed to you after you have registered for the workshop.

Our accompanist for the workshop will be Martin Bussey, Chester Bach Singers’ conductor.

The timetable for the day is:

9.15 am -10.00 am Registration and coffee
10.00 am -12.00 pm Session 1
12.00 pm -1.15 pm Lunch
1.15 pm -3.00 pm Session 2
3.00 pm -3.45 pm Break
3.45 pm -5.00 pm Session 3 (performance)

Friends and family will be welcome to hear the performance of the works studied at 3.45pm. There will be a charge of £5 for this, payable at the door.

Fees, Food and Parking

Workshop fee £18 (£10 under 19 or a full-time student), which includes drinks on arrival and during the afternoon break.

Hire of Quattro Pezzi Sacri £2.00.

Lunch will be available in the church hall during the lunch break. This will consist of soup and a filled roll. The cost of the lunch will be £5.00. This must be ordered and paid for in advance, as seating will be limited. If you bring your own sandwiches, seating will be available in the church. Coffee and tea will also be available in the church. Alternatively, there are local pubs and cafés in Handbridge, or take a short walk from St Mary’s over the river to Chester.

During the afternoon break, homemade cakes will be available in the church hall at a cost of £1.50.

There is limited parking at St Mary’s, and in nearby streets. All-day parking is also available at Queen’s Park High School (CH4 7AE) or there are car parks in Chester city centre, within walking distance, including the Roodee by the river.

30th October 2013 : Open Rehearsal – Handel’s Messiah

Come and join a Chester Bach Singer’s rehearsal as we begin to prepare Handel’s Messiah which we will be performing in Chester Cathedral in late November.

We welcome singers of all abilities to our open rehearsal on Wednesday, 30th October, 2013 at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start at the Music Department, Kings School, Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QL. Music will be provide on loan for the evening. The rehearsal will finish by 9.45pm.