Birmingham Bach Choir: Symphonies Of Song

Birmingham Bach Choir commence their 95th season on Saturday 23 November 2013 with a concert featuring three rarely performed works by three major composers.

Entitled Symphonies Of Song, the Adrian Boult Hall performance features works by Stravinsky, Elgar and Dyson.
Premiered in 1930, Igor Stravinsky’s The Symphony Of Psalms hails from the famed composers’ neoclassical period, prior to his move from Europe to America. A three-movement choral symphony, it incorporates the text from Psalm 150 which fittingly calls on worshippers to praise God with music and dance.

This is complemented by two personal, more autobiographical works by British composers Sir Edward Elgar and Sir George Dyson.

Elgar’s From The Bavarian Highlands is a selection of six choral songs. A collaboration between Edward and his wife Alice, it was inspired by a memorable holiday the two spent in Bavaria (Germany) during the autumn of 1894. Alongside the unspoilt Alpine views, the couple enjoyed visits to local hostelries where they witnessed displays of regional folk dances, prompting the compositions upon their return.

The son of a West Yorkshire blacksmith, the young George Dyson showed an early aptitude for music. Winning a scholarship to the prestigious Royal College Of Music, he later became the institution’s Director. Written in 1934, The Blacksmith recalls the composer’s working class roots in Halifax.

Paul Spicer, Birmingham Bach Choir conductor, says: “This concert is a fantastic programme of rarities including a version of Stravinsky’s famous The Symphony of Psalms with two piano accompaniment, which has almost never been heard, [and] to conclude will be a rarely heard work by Dyson – a visceral portrayal of the heat and physicality of the blacksmith’s forge which surely deserves to be better known.”

In addition to these three choral works, pianists Lindy Tennent-Brown and Andy Massey will be playing Mazurka Elegiaca, Op 23 No 2, Benjamin Britten’s tribute to the Polish composer, pianist and politician Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

Symphonies Of Song will be performed at Birmingham Conservatoire’s Adrian Boult Hall on Saturday 23 November 2013. Tickets are £15 and £12.50 (concession) available from 0121 705 4418 or book online via:

The choir’s 2013-214 Season continues with two festive concerts (Dec 14 2013, St Francis’ Church, Bournville, Bham; Dec 22, St Paul’s, Jewellery Quarter, Bham), a performance of works by German composers (Mar 29 2014, Birmingham Oratory; Apr 12, Tewkesbury Abbey, Glos), and concludes with the world premiere of Unfinished Remembering (Sep 13 2014, Symphony Hall, Bham), a new commission to mark the centenary of World War I, and a major event in the UK-wide anniversary programme.

Saturday 23 November 2013
Birmingham Bach Choir: Symphonies Of Song
Elgar: From The Bavarian Highlands
Dyson: The Blacksmiths
Stravinsky: Symphony Of Psalms
Britten: Mazurka Elegiaca, Op 23 No 2
Conductor: Paul Spicer
Piano Duet: Lindy Tennent-Brown and Andy Massey
Birmingham Conservatoire, Adrian Boult Hall, Paradise Place, Birmingham B3 3HG
Tickets: £15 / £12.50 concessions
Available from 0121 705 4418; by email:; book online via:
Also available in person from The Box and THSH Box Office.


Future 2013-2014 concerts include:

Carols By Candlelight
Saturday 14 December 2013
St Francis’ Church, Bournville, Birmingham
The Choir’s regular concert of seasonal music and readings in support of St Mary’s Hospice, Selly Oak.

Nine Lessons and Carols
Sunday 22 December 2013
St Paul’s Church, St Paul’s Square, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
Traditional service in one of the city’s loveliest buildings.

Come and Sing
Saturday 1 February 2014
Selly Oak Methodist Church, Langleys Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham
Opportunity to see the choir rehearsing Handel’s Messiah.

Song of the Lamb – Sacred German Voices
Saturday 29 March 2014
Birmingham Oratory, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Performing works by JS Bach, Leighton, Scarlatti, MacMillan & Whitacre

Song of the Lamb – Sacred German Voices
Saturday 12 April 2014
Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
JS Bach, Leighton, Scarlatti, MacMillan & Whitacre

Unfinished Remembering
Saturday 13 September 2014
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
World premier of Paul Spicer and poet Euan Tait’s Choral Symphony marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914

About Birmingham Bach Choir

The Birmingham Bach Choir has been contributing to the musical life of the West Midlands since 1919, making it one of the oldest musical groups in the area. Although they perform music spanning over 300 years, their main focus is the music of JS Bach and the Baroque period.

2013/2014 marks Birmingham Bach Choirs’ 95th season and includes the World Premiere of a brand new choral symphony by Spicer and Tait to mark the outbreak of The Great War – a key event in the UK-wide First World War Centenary programme.

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