Unfinished Remembering

Birmingham Bach Choir

  • Leading choir mark WW1 Centenary with new choral symphony.
  • Unfinished Remembering, by composer Paul Spicer and librettist Euan Tait.

Unfinished RememberingBirmingham Bach Choir commemorate the anniversary of The Great War with the premiere of a new landmark choral symphony, Unfinished Remembering.

Reflecting on the sacrifices of the ‘the war to end all wars’, Unfinished Remembering is dedicated to all those who suffered as a result the First World War, and also to those effected by subsequent conflicts.

Commissioned by the choir, the choral symphony has been written by acclaimed composer Paul Spicer and poet/ librettist Euan Tait, and was inspired by the processions of hearses that Euan witnessed while living in Wotton Bassett in 2008.

“The Wootton Basset experience, seeing grieving [military] families including young widows, made me think of the unfinished lives of the First World War’s young soldiers and how some of them never got a chance to come back and start a family,” says Tait.

The first movement is a song of grief – the cry ‘O Absalom, my son, my son’ is at the heart of it – yet it also imagines the soldiers’ spirits returning from the battlefields where they fell, and their souls coming back to a contemporary England to question us. The second movement is full of those difficult, challenging questions: What society are we building? Is it worthy of their sacrifice? The third movement is a ‘battle for life’ – a soldier faces overwhelming odds in a battle, yet the chorus affirm the value of being human. Finally, the fourth movement then imagines a city being destroyed by conflict, speaks with honour of the lost soldiers, and expresses longing that we continue to struggle to build a better peace.”

Composer Paul Spicer describes the work as “hugely dramatic” and tackling a subject that “could not be more harrowing.”

“It tries to ask if the sacrifices made by those soldiers of 1914-18 have resulted in a better and more just society,” says Spicer. “It is a big question and it leads to extreme contrasts in the music. The last movement is almost scary in its drama with a piano part which is almost concerto-like but also seems to mirror ricocheting bullets. The work ends in quiet resignation and with a feeling of incompleteness which reflects the ‘unfinished’ remembering.”

Choir member Kate Crocker (soprano) says: “’After all the preparation and rehearsal, we are very excited to be performing this important and moving piece which honours our heroes from the First Word War and succeeding generations.”

Unfinished Remembering will receive its world premiere at Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 13 September 2014 in a programme that also includes Vaughan Williams’ plea for peace, Dona Nobis Pacem, and A Shared Singing, a new ‘National Song’ penned by Spicer and Tait especially for The British Legion’s new Military Community Choir. Tickets £12-£25 (concessions available) from THSH Box Office 0121 345 0600 or via http://www.birmingham.bachchoir.com


Saturday 13 September 2014
Unfinished Remembering
Symphony Hall, 32 Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EA
T: 0121 345 0600
W:    http://www.birmingham.bachchoir.com | www.thsh.co.uk
Tickets: £12, £18, £25; Concessions £10, £15, £22; Under 16s £5 (plus transaction fee). Available from THSH Box Office – T: 0121 345 0600; W: http://www.thsh.co.uk;  E: tickets@birmingham.bachchoir.com

World premiere of Paul Spicer and poet Euan Tait’s choral symphony marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914; plus Dona Nobis Pacem by Vaughan Williams and the National Song A Shared Singing to be performed by a new military choir.

Conductor:         Paul Spicer
Birmingham Bach Choir
Orchestra of the Swan
Soprano:             Johane Ansell
Baritone:             William Dazeley
Midlands Military Community Choir (A Shared Singing)

Paul Spicer, librettist Euan Tait         Unfinished Remembering
Ralph Vaughan Williams                     Dona Nobis Pacem
Paul Spicer & Euan Tait                        A Shared Singing

Pre-concert talk at 6.30pm by Euan Tait.


As one of the UKs leading large chamber choirs  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 Baroque period (especially JS Bach), plus 20th and 21st century works.

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 entitled Unfinished Remembering – a key event in the UK-wide First World War Centenary programme.

For more information, see: http://www.birmingham.bachchoir.com


An in-demand conductor, composer, record producer, lecturer and writer, Paul has been conducting Birmingham Bach Choir since 1992. The first complete recording of Paul’s large-scale Easter Oratorio, originally commissioned as part of the Lichfield Festival Millennium celebrations, was released in 2005 and has received considerable critical acclaim. He presently teaches choral conducting at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he also directs both chamber choirs, and at Oxford and Durham Universities, and has recently published a full-scale biography and study of composer Sir George Dyson.

For full biography, including details of other compositions, recordings and work, see: http://www.paulspicer.com


An experienced trainer, retreat leader and librettist, Euan leads Quiet Days for parishes and other groups UK-wide. His Praying with Music retreats explore the inner life of music of such composers as Bach, Beethoven, Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Euan has been a Lecturer in English and Creative Writing since August 2014, and his work has been published in a number of leading poetry titles. Having recently collaborated with Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen, Euan is currently developing a number of projects including a new choral symphony and an opera.

For more information, see: euantait.co.uk

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