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.