Despite the extreme conditions, everyone associated with the performance on Saturday December 4th is keen to ensure that it goes ahead. The soloists are coming from afar, the conductor and orchestra from quite a long way and the choir from out of the snow! Hope that you can come and enjoy these special works as well.
If there was to be any further difficulties then you will see it here first.
The following is the full version of a critique prepared by Vincent Smith of the June concert. An abridged version of this was published in the Sunderland Echo on June 29th 2010.
“ Bishopwearmouth Choral Society is to be congratulated on the imaginative and innovative programme which was performed at the Minster on Saturday night. The combination of Choir and Brass always promises much and this was to be a thrilling evening enjoyed by all.
A Fanfare for Brass Quintet from the Ballet “La Peri “(Dukas) and “Die Bankelsangerlieder” (anon.) gave the programme an exhilarating start. Anton Bruckner, the Austrian composer best known for his symphonies did nevertheless compose some of the most beautiful choral works for his beloved Church. The choir performed four of his ten motets. They present many challenges, not least that of singing “a capella” and high passages for the sopranos, challenges which were successfully realised. Two of the motets were accompanied by three trombones that being the only support throughout the works. The Minster resonated to some glorious and thrilling choral sounds. The full brass section of 9 players and two percussionists ended the first half with sparkling and tasteful performances of “The Prince of Denmark’s March” and the equally well known Suite of Six Dances by Susato.
The second half could not have begun with a more original and delightful opening. Two percussionists, Andy Booth and Mark Bolderson performed “Marche de Timbales” by Philidor. Pleasure was written over the faces of audience and choir alike as they experienced the aural and visual delights of Baroque military drumming. Equally pleasurable was Andy’s performance of his own arrangement of “Little Polly’s Polka” by Keith Bartlett for Timpani to which Andy brought in the Brass to contribute a delicious “oom pah pah accompaniment at the end.
It was fitting that all forces came together for the final piece, “Te Deum” one of John Rutter’s most popular works. In three movements the two outer sections fully exploit the technical virtuosity of players and singers alike and it was a credit to all that the balance was so well judged and that every syllable was clearly audible above the rich textures of the accompaniment. The more contemplative and reflective central movement featured five soloists drawn from the choir and a highly decorative organ part performed with sensitivity by Eileen Bown. The Minster was filled with glorious sounds and final tribute must go to the inspiring leadership and conducting of the Music Director, David Murray. A receptive audience left the performers in no doubt that it had been an evening to remember.”
The Society is pleased to announce that there is now an additional way for our audience to obtain tickets for performances. Future concerts will be advertised on this site with a unique link to the WeGoTickets site holding tickets.
This organisation does not actually issue tickets but gives the purchasor a reference number, which will be used at the door in lieu of an actual ticket, but it does provide an immediate on-line option with credit card facilities, for a small booking charge. Their site will also provide additional publicity which internet users can consult by date, area, specific venue, or performers.
Writing in the Sunderland Echo (December 8th 2009) Roy Horabin had the following to say about the recent, and rare full, performance by Bishopwearmouth Choral Society of Handel’s Messiah :-
“Apparently it is the 20th time this society has sung Messiah and the first time they have sung all of it. Conductor David Murray caught the spirit from the onset, the large choir responding well to contrasting moods…. James Geer (tenor) excelled in the opening recitative Comfort Ye My people and the aria Every Valley Shall Be Exalted. Wyn Pencarry (bass – and a last minute substitute) made deep impact with For He Is Like A Refiner’s Fire, while Katherine Moore’s (Sunderland born soprano) articulation of the florid Rejoice greatly was superb. By contrast Sara Parry (mezzo-soprano) sang He Was Despised And Rejected with intense feeling. Trumpets enhanced the jubilant Hallelujah Chorus …. and the finale culminated in a vast fugal Amen Chorus which Handel designed to be the crowning glory of the oratorio. This thrilling climax was evocative of an uplifting and spiritual experience.”
CHANGE OF DATE : now to be transmitted on BBC1 on Sunday 26th July.
If you can catch an edition of Songs of Praise to be broadcast on BBC 2 on Sunday 19th July at around 5.00 p.m. you will be see (and hear) a chamber choir from the Society contribute to ‘Songs of Praise from Sunderland and the North East’. Their recordings of ‘Awake, Awake to Love and Work’ and ‘Lord of All Hopefulness’ will start and end the programme.
Our recent concert on the 13th June 2009 was reviewed by Roy Horabin in The Sunderland Echo under the headline of “Rarely a blemish”. It was noted that the opening piece, Grainger’s ‘Fantasy on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess’ was played “in spectacular style by David Murray and Eileen Bown”. Next was Lambert’s masterpiece ‘The Rio Grande’ descriptive of a carnival day in a South American sea port. “David Murray directed a most interesting rendition” and the “chorus work never failed to capture the spirit of this joyous music”. “The accompaniment by pianists Eileen Bown and Jonathan Story, plus an enlarged percussion section, brought to life the score’s infectious dance rhythms”.
After the interval came ‘Carmina Burana’ produced by Carl Orff sung in Latin. “From the opening bars there was no lack of exuberance, while lyrical passages were sung with obvious affection”. “A well rehearsed contribution from the Bishopwearmouth Young Singers was much appreciated”.
“The choir maintained the highest of standards, faithfully observing dynamics and maintaining a good vocal balance throughout” “There was rarely a blemish”.
The major social event of 60th Anniversary season was a successful formal dinner held at the Quayside Exchange in Sunderland on Friday 15th May 2009 in the presence of The Mayor of Sunderland, Co. Alan Richardson, and the Mayoress and Anne Marie Owens, the President of the Society.
Over 100 diners, including many Patrons and previous members of the Society, were able to examine a range of memorabilia including photographs and old programmes. After their meal they were entertained by a talk by Dr. Alan Speeding of Beverley Minster who is very well known in choral circles.
Christine Alder, Chairman of the Society, mentioned some landmarks in the history of the Society and noted the many thanks which are due to those who have enabled the Society to develop over its 60 years and to continue to provide local concerts of such a scale and high calibre.
Writing a review in the Sunderland Echo, Roy Horabin concluded that Bishopwearmouth Choral Society had given a fabulous performance of Edward Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at Sunderland MInster. Composed in 1900 its first rendering was a disaster and Elgar was devastated, but it is now considered one of his masterpieces. Musical Director David Murray ensured a convincing interpretation from the soloists, choir and orchestra. John Graham-Hall consistently expressed the innermost feelings of Gerontius and his refined tenor voice blended well with Anne-Marie Owens, who sensitively portrayed the Angel. Philip Smith’s baritone roles as priest and angel of the Agony were exemplary. In addition to the main chorus, a semi-chorus operated from the side gallery, which included the Bishopwearmouth Young SIngers. The orchestra lent colourful support and balanced admirably with singers so the combined ensemble work was notable for its cohesion and subtlety of detail. Serene closing passages made a lasting impression.
Extracted from a review by Roy Horobin in The Sunderland Echo – 2nd April 2009.
The review echoed comments from the audience that the concert had been ‘inspirational’.
Thanks to the kindness of a past member of the Society we now have an original copy of the programme for the 12th concert given by the choir – Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ – held on Thursday 3rd December, 1953. For the price of three shillings it was preceeded by an organ recital at 6.45 p.m. before the main concert at 7.30 p.m.
The question is do you have anything similar from the earlier days of the Society – perhaps a notable programme or a critic’s review or even just a memory of a notable event which you took part in. If so, the Society would be very pleased to hear from you!
Dorothy Hardy, currently finishing her Glass and Ceramics BA Degree at Sunderland University, has taken inspiration from Bishopwearmouth Choral Society and created a stunning piece in glass, entitled ‘Interactive Choir’. Her approach is outlined below in her artist’s statement and it is hoped the members and friends of the Society will have the opportunity of viewing the piece itself at a performance.