Spring concert – postponed or cancelled?

Final designjpg

We intended to perform Fauré’s Requiem for our spring concert this year, but in the light of government advice, we decided to postpone the concert to 10 October 2020. And choir rehearsals have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the pandemic made this date impossible. The choir, unable to rehearse as usual, took to Zoom and with the encouraging and good-humoured guidance of its Director of Music, Marc Murray, has been having weekly rehearsals, ready for concerts (we hope!) in 2021. Since November we have been enjoying singing Christmas music, carols old and new, in the privacy of our homes, but with the ‘backing’ of a range of professional choirs. (Note added in December 2020).

Notes on Fauré’s Requiem (as written for the concert as planned for October 2020).

Composed between 1887 and 1890 for La Madeleine, Paris, Fauré”s Requiem has become a firm favourite with British choirs, and with audiences. And for good reason. Its beautiful melodies are shared by the different voice parts – not just given to the sopranos! And it is economical in its use of soloists, having just soprano and baritone. Unlike Verdi’s large-scale, theatrical setting of the requiem mass, it is a restrained,  contemplative piece; which is not to say that it doesn’t also have its dramatic moments. Its most poignant performance was for Fauré’s own funeral in 1924 in its full orchestral version.

Fauré will also be represented in this concert by his extremely beautiful Cantique de Jean Racine. The second half of the programme will consist of sacred anthems some well-known, others less so.

Psalm 150 – a setting by César Franck

Teach me,  O Lord –  William Byrd

Hear my prayer – Felix Mendelssohn (which includes the section ‘O for the wings of a dove’)

How lovely are thy dwellings – Johannes Brahms

The Spirit of the Lord from The Apostles – Edward Elgar

Where thou reignest – Franz Schubert

Blest pair of sirens – Charles Parry

The concert will be conducted by the choir’s Director of Music, Marc Murray.

Holy Trinity Church, Houghton Street, Southport PR9 0PR.

10 October 2020 at 7.30 pm.

Tickets £12. Ring 01704540097 or 01704535208. Or at the door.





Come and Sing 2020

Handel: Coronation Anthems and Messiah choruses

Our Come and Sing Day 2020 will be held on Saturday, 8 February at Emmanuel Church, Southport. The day will run from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm ending with a performance “run-through” of all the works which non-singing guests are welcome to attend free of charge.

10.00 to 10.45 – arrival and registration in the Church Hall where coffee and biscuits will be available.

10.45 to 12.15 – rehearsal in the Church

12.15 to 1.15 – lunch in the Church Hall

1.15 to 2.30 – rehearsal in the Church

2.30 to 3.00 – tea and biscuits in the Church Hall

3.00 to 4.00 – final rehearsal

4.15 – 5.00 – performance

If you would like to attend this event, please complete the booking form and return it with the full amount payable by Monday 3rd February 2020 to:  SBC Come and Sing 2020, 29 Clovelly Drive, Southport PR8 3AJ.

Please make cheques payable to Southport Bach Choir.

Click here for further details and booking form: Come&Sing2020

Christmas Oratorio

Xmas 2019

Since September the Southport Bach Choir have been working hard at their German for a performance of the first three parts of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: Weihnachts-Oratorium. It is some years since we last sung this work (we gave a complete performance in 1986, and sang some of the choral numbers in 2011) and it is a pleasure to get to know this joyful work again. One of the delights is learning from the inside, as it were, the different and marvellously varied ways in which Bach harmonises the well-known chorale tunes.

On 7 December there will be the further delight of hearing the solo numbers sung by soloists from the Royal Northern College of Music.

Julia Smith – soprano
Hollie-Anne Bangham – mezzo-soprano
Philip O’Connor – tenor
Thomas D Hopkinson – bass

Accompaniment by the Liverpool Concert Orchestra will make the performance still more festive, adding the timbres of strings, oboes and flute, percussion and harpsichord.

The performance will be conducted by our Director of Music, Marc Murray.

Saturday, 7 December 2019 at 7.30 pm.
Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton Street, Southport PR9 0 PT.
Tickets £12 – 01704 540097 or 01704 535208. Or at the door.

Summer Concert 22 June



For our summer concert this year we are doing something rather different – different for the Southport Bach Choir, that is. As well as Schubert’s Mass in E flat, we are singing four very popular opera choruses:

Mascagni: Easter hymn (Cavalliera rusticana)
Rossini: Prayer (Moïse)
Verdi: Chorus of Hebrew slaves (Nabucco)
Verdi: Triumphal scene (Aida)

Anyone who attended our last concert may remember that we sang Schubert’s short Stabat Mater. The Mass that we shall be singing on 22 June is a different matter altogether. It is scored for 4-part choir, 4 soloists and orchestra and lasts about an hour. There are the usual Schubertian lovely melodies, but also great dramatic writing and some sinewy chromaticism that is quite challenging for singers. Schubert’s music makes the well-known words of the Mass come alive so that you are brought face to face with, for instance, the awe-inspiring events underlying the Credo.

The repertoire of a choir like the Southport Bach Choir is inevitably dominated by religious music, so it is a refreshing change to be singing pieces from the secular repertoire. But, in fact, the religious element is strong in the choruses that we shall be performing. Mascagni’s opera, Cavalliera rusticana (1890), features the lovely Easter hymn. It is Easter Day and one choir represents the people in church singing the Regina coeli; the other choir represents the villagers outside singing an Easter hymn rejoicing in the life of the Saviour.

Rossini first wrote an opera loosely based on the story of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to an Italian libretto in 1818, but he revised it and set a French libretto in 1827. Moïse is seldom performed, but the tuneful Prayer will be familiar to many. It is sung by Moses and the Israelites asking the Lord for safe guidance home.

Nabucco (1814) is generally thought to be the opera that established Verdi as a considerable composer. The romantic story is based on the time when the Jews were exiled by the Babylonian King Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar). The famous chorus of Hebrew slaves laments their loss of a beautiful and beloved homeland.

The grand Triumphal scene in Aida (1871), by contrast, might seem to be purely secular as Radames marches triumphantly into Thebes with the spoils of war. But the chorus of people sing in praise of the King of Egypt and are supported by a chorus of (male) priests who remind everyone to thank the gods.

Praise, prayer and lament: these are features of music, as they are of life that unite the religious and the secular. And in this concert the choir will enjoy singing music of uplifting beauty. We shall be accompanied by members of the Southport Orchestra and four soloists from the Royal Northern College of Musicwho will each be singing an operatic aria.

Kimberley Raw (soprano)

Joanna Harries (mezzo-soprano)

Matthew Palfreyman (tenor)

David Cane (bass)

The concert will be conducted by our Director of Music Marc Murray.

Saturday, 22 June 2019 at 7.30pm.

Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton St, Southport PR9 0PT.

Tickets: £12 at the door. In advance: 01704 540097 or 01704 535208.


Spring Concert 6 April


Dvorakedit2 2019

Since our Spring Concert falls, as usual, in the Lenten period, Marc Murray, our Director of Music, has chosen three settings of Stabat Mater for half the programme. Stabat Mater is a thirteenth-century hymn to the Virgin Mary, exploring her sorrow as she stands by the cross on which her Son has been crucified, begging to share in her grief and praying to join Christ in paradise when death eventually comes. The poem consists of twenty 3-line stanzas; the language is vivid and emotional. So it is not surprising to find that it has attracted many composers over the centuries since it was written, though they don’t all set the complete poem.

The earliest and best known setting that we shall be singing, dating from the end of the 16th century, is by Palestrina. This is an impressive work for double chorus, which sets all 20 stanzas, creating different effects with the eight vocal lines at his disposal.

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, a  Spanish composer, working in the 17th century sets just the first two stanzas of the poem, in music that is heartfelt and melodic. The third setting that we shall be singing is by the youthful Schubert. He set the first four stanzas in music that is both lyrical and dramatic.

The other half of our programme is taken up by Dvorak’s Mass in D. He too did write a Stabat Mater, but perhaps a whole evening of such settings would have been a bit indigestible, and in any case his is a very long one! The Mass that we shall be performing has the lovely melodies we associate with that composer and plenty of drama in his setting of the well-known words.

The concert will be conducted by Marc Murray, with Shaun Turnbull on the organ.

Saturday, 6 April 2019 at 7.30pm.

Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton St, Southport PR9 0PT.

Tickets: £12 at the door. In advance: 01704 540097 or 01704 535208.

Come and Sing 2019

Come and Sing 2019: Mozart Requiem

Join the Southport Bach Choir for another of our popular Come and Sing events featuring the beautiful Mozart Requiem.

At the end of Come and Sing days we always ask visitors to suggest works for future singing days. Mozart’s Requiem heads the list every time. The story behind its composition is sheer drama, and the work itself is suffused with Mozart’s unique melodic and harmonic genius.

The day will run from 10am to 5pm ending with a performance run-through of the whole work which non-singing guests are welcome to attend free of charge.

10.00 – 10.45        Arrival and registration in the church hall. Coffee and biscuits.

10.45 – 12.15        Rehearsal in church

12.15 – 1.15          Lunch in church hall

2.30 – 3.00           Tea and biscuits in church hall

3.00 – 4.00           Final rehearsal

4.15 – 5.00           Performance

If you would like to attend this event, please complete the booking form and return it with the full amount payable by 29th January 2019 to SBC Come and Sing 2018, 29 Clovelly Drive, Southport PR8 3AJ. Please make cheques payable to Southport Bach Choir.

Click here for further details and booking form: Come&Sing 2019


Messiah – 8 December

The choir has performed Handel’s well-loved and well-known masterpiece at least once every 10 years in the course of its existence, and each of the conductors who have directed the choir has included this work . This seems trifling compared with some choirs who perform the work every year, but it means that the choir comes to the music perhaps rather more freshly.

Each of the conductors we have had  (5 so far) has chosen to take the choir through this piece, and each time we singers learn something new. No performance is the same; each conductor has his (no female musical director of the SBC yet!) individual preferences regarding speed, dynamics, interpretation, and over the years there have been cultural changes in the way eighteenth-century music is interpreted and performed, as the slower-paced, rather heavier versions have been replaced by lighter, faster preferences, with greater emphasis on the dance-like aspect of the music, and precise articulation of the words.

Our first musical director, David Bowman, conducted a performance of Messiah early in the choir’s second year, when he used the edition by Watkins Shaw, which had fairly recently been published, and made significant changes from the Prout edition which choirs had been using for many years. Since then we have performed Part I as part of a December concert, sung choruses from the work and sung complete versions in both the Watkins Shaw and the Prout edition.

Tonight our Director of Music, Marc Murray, will conduct the complete work (with a few cuts), using the Watkins Shaw edition. We are delighted to welcome our soloists – Rosanna Harris, Charlotte Badham, Charles-Louis Gagnon and Samuel Jackson – and members of Crosby Symphony Orchestra.

The performance starts at 7.30 at Holy Trinity Church, Southport.

Tickets are £12, at the door, or from 01704 540097, or 01704 535208.

Carmina Burana in summer concert 2018

On 23 June 2018 the choir will be singing Carl Orff’s every-popular Carmina Burana, aided by the boys of Holy Trinity Church Choir and soloists Margarita Wood (soprano), Matthew Palfreyman (tenor), and Arthur Bruce (baritone). The accompaniment will be provided by Elin Rees and Robert Woods on pianos and percussion. The conductor will be our Director of Music, Marc Murray.

These forces will also be employed in the other piece in the programme, Jonathan Dove’s Arion and the Dolphin.  This work is a dramatic cantata that was conceived as a companion piece for Carmina Burana. It is scored for countertenor or alto solo, children’s choir, adult mixed choir, two pianos and percussion and told in lively verse by Dove’s long-time collaborator Alasdair Middleton. It was commissioned for Making Music members, receiving its premiere in March 2016. As a member of Making Music, the Southport Bach Choir is delighted to be giving one of the first performances of this delightful work.

The concert will be in our usual venue: Holy Trinity Church, Southport, PR9 0TE, at 7.30 pm.

Tickets £12 available from 01704 540097 or 01704 535208 – or at the door.





Love and Loss: sacred and profane

Our concert on 14 April 2018 takes the theme of love and loss in both the sacred and the secular spheres. We shall be singing a variety of pieces, some of which are firm favourites in the field of choral music, such as Fauré’s lovely ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’; others are less well-known. Perhaps the most unusual of these is the arrangement of Japanese songs by Bob Chilcott. This is absolutely delightful music, which is sure to please our audience, and we are greatly enjoying rehearsing the songs. As we have a Japanese member of the choir, we might even attempt to sing one of them in Japanese!

Here is the full programme of pieces:

Antiphon ‘Let all the world’  by Ralph Vaughan Williams

‘Rise up my Love’ by Healey Willan

‘Geistliches Lied’  by Johannes Brahms

‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ by Gabriel Fauré

‘Stabat Mater’ by Schubert

‘Christus factus’ est by Bruckner

Furusato (5 Arrangements of Japanese Songs) by Bob Chilcott

6 moravských dvojzpěvů by Antonin Dvorák

Hungarian Folksongs by Matyas Seiber


The concert will be conducted by our Director of Music, Marc Murray and the choir will be accompanied by Robert Woods, our valued rehearsal accompanist.

The concert is at Holy Trinity Church, Southport PT9 0PR, starting at 7.30 pm.

Tickets £10 in advance from 01704 540097, or 01704 535208, or available at the door.

Southport Bach Choir

Come and Sing 2018

Come and Sing Rutter’s Gift of Life

***Closing date extending to 31 January 2018.***

You are invited to join the Southport Bach Choir in a day’s workshop on John Rutter’s recent work, The Gift of Life on Saturday, 3 February 2018First performed in New York in February 2017, the work was given its first UK performance by the SBC in June this year (2017). It is a six-movement choral celebration of the living earth, of creation, and of life itself, offering a kaleidoscope of moods from contemplative and prayerful to majestic and inspirational. The music ranges from relatively simple to complex, from lyrical to dynamic, and is very rewarding to sing.

Under the guidance of Marc Murray, the SBC’s Director of Music, and with the assistance of Robert Woods on the organ, this is sure to be an inspiring and satisfying day of music-making. There will of course be the usual splendid sandwich lunch available for those want it, and the usual magnificent array of cakes!

Emmanuel Church on Cambridge Road, Southport, has proved to be a super venue for a ‘come and sing’, with the church hall available for lunch and tea. We have learned from the experience of last year that we need to provide coffee/tea before the day gets under way, as people are likely to have travelled some distance, and this is reflected in the timings below.

10.00 to 10.45 – Arrival and Registration in the Church Hall (coffee and biscuits available).

10.45 to 12.15 – Rehearsal in the Church

12.15 to 1.15  –   Lunch in the Church Hall

1.15 to 2.30 –    Rehearsal in the Church

2.30 to 3.00 –   Tea and biscuits in the Church Hall

3.00 to 4.00 –   Final rehearsal

4.15 to 5.00 –    Performance

If you would like to attend this event, please complete the Booking form and return it with the full amount payable by 31 January 2018 to SBC Come and Sing 2018, 29 Clovelly Drive, Southport PR8 3AJ.

We look forward to seeing and making music with you.