Birmingham Bach Choir: Brilliant Bach

Birmingham Bach Choir by Frank Wood (c)

24 November 2018, St Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

After several concerts exploring the work of various composers across the centuries, the aptly titled Brilliant Bach (24 Nov 2018, St Philip’s Cathedral, B’ham) finds Birmingham Bach Choir returning to their inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach.

While many are familiar with Bach’s B Minor Mass – a grand masterpiece last performed by the choir at Birmingham Town Hall for Conductor Paul Spicer’s 25th anniversary concert in 2017 – Brilliant Bach sees the choir air the lesser known, but nonetheless memorable, Mass in G minor BWV235.

Composed in the late 1730s, Bach called on previously written cantatas in the construction of the Mass, a move which resulted in the work being overshadowed. However, ripe for re-evaluation, BWV235 is now seen as a compelling late masterpiece, unified and filled with beauty.

Joining the choir for the concert are Natalie Clifton-Griffith (soprano), Simon Ponsford (counter-tenor), Daniel Auchincloss (tenor), and Julian Debreuil (bass baritone).

A graduate of both The Birmingham Conservatoire and The Royal College of Music, Natalie has performed at The Barbican and Three Choirs Festival, and recently joined London Voices for the 2018 BBC Proms.

Starting his singing career at a young age in Gloucester Cathedral Choir, Simon was later a Choral Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. He recently took part in Monteverdi Choir’s ground-breaking tour of Bach’s Matthäus-Passion performed from memory. His album of Elizabethan and Jacobean songs, Time Stands Still, was released in 2013 to critical acclaim.

Canadian Daniel has recorded and performed across the world as soloist with the BBC, English National Opera, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Netherlands Bach Society, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and many more. This year, he made his Glyndebourne debut, and will soon return to the Royal Opera House, covering Chekalinsky in Queen Of Spades.

A recipient of many major awards, Julian studied singing, conducting and composition at the Royal College of Music and the Georg Solti Accademia. His many career highlights include Verdi Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Bach’s St John Passion with the London Handel Players, Elgar’s The Apostles with the BBC Concert Orchestra, plus Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and the Brahms’ Requiem with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra.

Performing alongside the choir are The Musical and Amicable Society, a small Baroque orchestra who have accompanied  them on a number of occasions, most recently for Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St Mark Passion, both in 2017. Originally formed in 1762 at St Bartholomew’s Chapel, Birmingham (since demolished), this historic Society was revived in 2003 as a collective of professional period-instrument specialists, recreating the soundscape of an earlier era.

Discussing the Brilliant Bach concert, Conductor Paul Spicer said: “We are very much looking forward to performing Bach’s Mass in G Minor BWV235, which we have never sung before and is full of beautiful music. So too are the two cantatas we will also perform: Wir danken dir, Gott BWV29, famous for its virtuoso organ introduction, which will be played by Martyn Rawles; and Ich hatte viel bekümmernis BWV21, one of the loveliest of Bach’s cantatas.

“This will be a memorable concert for the performers and audience alike, especially as St Philip’s Cathedral is one of our favourite venues.”

The performance launches the choir’s 2018-2019 Season, which includes a selection of sacred music for Passiontide, also at St Philip’s Cathedral, and a summer concert of Spirituals, while February 2019 sees the Choir’s annual Come and Sing! workshop, focusing on Elgar’s The Music Makers.

Birmingham Bach Choir: Brilliant Bach is at St Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham, on Saturday 24 November 2018. For tickets and more information, see:


Saturday 24 November 2018
Birmingham Bach Choir: Brilliant Bach
St Philip’s Cathedral, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB

J S Bach: Mass in G minor BWV235
Cantata: Wir danken dir, Gott BWV29 (organ soloist Martyn Rawles)
Cantata: Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV21

Paul Spicer- conductor

Natalie Clifton-Griffith (soprano)
Simon Ponsford (counter-tenor)
Daniel Auchincloss (tenor)
Julian Debreuil (baritone)

The Musical & Amicable Society – Baroque orchestra

Martyn Rawles – organ

Birmingham Bach Choir

Tickets: Nave £18 (£16 conc); Gallery £10



As one of the UK’s 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 longest established musical groups in the area. Although the main focus is the Baroque period (especially JS Bach), the choir performs music spanning over 500 years including 20th and 21st century works.

“Stunning … great waves of beautifully phrased eloquence … constant fascination” 5 stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Byrd’s The Great Service, March 2018)

“Sounding awesomely impressive.” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Great Russian Sacred Music, November 2016)

“This was a reading luminous in its clarity, exhilaratingly detailed in the fine-etched shaping and balancing of its contrapuntal lines, and delivering diction of unaffected immediacy.” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Bach’s B Minor Mass, December 2017)

For more information see:

Also see:

Simon Ponsford:

Daniel Auchincloss:

Julian Debreuil:

The Musical & Amicable Society:


Members of the choir are available for selected interviews. We also have a limited number of review tickets.

For more information, and all interview and review ticket requests, please contact us …