Birmingham Bach Choir
The Birmingham Bach Choir is one of Birmingham’s oldest and most distinguished musical groups. It celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2009. It has achieved a reputation for powerfully spirited performances, for the commitment and energy of its members, the insight of its interpretations and the sheer beauty of its singing. Whether giving dramatic and assured performances of the virtuoso choral music of J S Bach or Handel, or creating a richly textured sound world for the romantic a cappella music of Brahms or Bruckner, or reflecting the various contemporary idioms of the 20th and 21st centuries, the choir rises to its many challenges with great acclaim from the critics.
…Spicer conjured something wonderful, holding us silent and awed for a considerable interval at the end of this presentation from the Birmingham Bach Choir, before eventually lowering his arms, inviting his soloists to stand and the torrent of acclaim to begin. And the acclaim was well-deserved, for the BBC is surely among the premier division of the country's choirs, its many members responding with amazing unanimity of tone, unflinching attack and unforced naturalness of diction to Spicer's inspiring and urbane direction, almost at times, indeed, singing with the fluidity and deftness of an extra soloist…
Two thousand-plus people filled the state-of-the-art Symphony Hall…and relished a level of brilliance and expertise under conductor Paul Spicer which gripped and enthralled.
Wonders galore on display, not least the delicacy and clarity of this large body of choristers. Diction was perfectly judged, balances were natural and textures sparkled with plenty of invigorating air between the notes.
The opening Kyrie of Bach's Missa Brevis in F revealing a decidedly youthful sound (full, clear but fluid), buoyant vitality generated in a cleanly articulated Gloria.
What makes this choir so interesting is their ability to display a broad spectrum of colours by utilising a huge range of contrasting tempi and dynamics. Such an emphasis on expressive design makes viewing a group of this calibre a rarity.
It was all performed with stylish commitment and emotional engagement.
On James MacMillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross performed in April 2009
Last Saturday's concert must surely rank amongst the most memorable in the Birmingham Bach Choir's distinguished history...The range of choral registers is huge in its exploration of extremities (and) the message of the texts was delivered with awesome finality.
While some concerts are given a cappella, the choir performs with a number of orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra, Florilegium, The Brandenburg Baroque Soloists and the Orchestra of the Swan. It gave the annual Good Friday performance of Bach’s St.Matthew Passion in Symphony Hall for a seven year period between 2001 and 2008.
As well as performing in Birmingham, the choir sings in a variety of other locations around the Midlands and further afield. They have performed at the Cheltenham and Lichfield Festivals and in Prague, Dresden and Leipzig. The choir now has very close links with Leipzig and has sung twice at St Thomas’s Church where Bach was Kapelmeister.
For further details and of all the choir’s concerts see our website.