Birmingham Bach Choir’s Centenary Organ Recital

The final concert of the choir’s anniversary celebrations brings leading organists to St Chad’s Cathedral

St Chads Cathedral 1.jpg
Above: St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham
By Tony Hisgett – originally posted to Flickr as St Chads Cathedral 1, CC BY 2.0, Link

Birmingham Bach Choir concludes its 12 month anniversary celebrations with another special concert.

The Centenary Organ Recital (21 March 2020) features five renowned organists performing music closely connected to the choir, from pieces written by Bach, to work composed in 1919 (when the choir was originally founded).

The recital takes place at St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, home to one of the finest ‘mechanical’ organs in the UK, which was built by J.W. Walker and Sons. Founded in 1828, the specialist firm – who are Pipe Organ Builders and Tuners By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II – began work on the commission in 1990. Featuring a magnificent case designed by the late David Graebe, the grand instrument operates on a mechanical action of rods and levers, producing the sound based on unchanged medieval principles. Appearing on numerous commercial recordings and on radio and TV, the organ recently underwent a major restoration.

The recital features organists Martyn Rawles (Organist and Assistant Director of Music, Lichfield Cathedral) with Nigel Argust (Assistant Organist, Lichfield Cathedral), Paul Carr (Vice-Chair of Worcestershire Organists Association), Rupert Jeffcoat (former Director of Music, Coventry Cathedral), and Robert Sharpe (Director Of Music, York Minster) – all of whom have long and creative associations with the choir.

Among the works being aired are Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B minor BWV 544 and Badinerie (Suite No 2), Mendelssohn’s Allegro, Choral and Fugue, and Stravinsky’s Berceuse and Finale (The Firebird), plus Rupert Jeffcoat’s Rond-o!, and Finale (Suite), written by Birmingham Bach Choir’s Musical Director and Conductor, Paul Spicer.

Philip Bellshaw, Birmingham Bach Choir’s Chair, said: “This recital is the last event in our successful centenary celebrations. It will be a wonderful opportunity to hear some very fine organists on one of the finest organs in the region.

“We’re hugely grateful to the musicians for all for their loyalty and support for the choir over the years.”

Birmingham Bach Choir’s The Centenary Organ Recital takes place on Saturday 21 March, at St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, from 2pm-3pm. Tickets £5 (£4 conc) on the door only. For more information, see:



Saturday 21 March 2020
Birmingham Bach Choir’s The Centenary Organ Recital
St. Chad’s Cathedral
Birmingham B4 6EU
£5 (£4 conc)


Martyn Rawles, with Nigel Argust, Paul Carr, Rupert Jeffcoat & Robert Sharpe


  • Prelude and Fugue in B minor BWV 544  – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) [RS]
  • Adagio (Cello Concerto) – Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) arr. Dom Gregory Murray (1905-1992) [NA]
  • Kyrie, Gott Heiliger Geist BWV 671 – Johann Sebastian Bach [NA]
  • Freu dich sehr (Partita) – Georg Böhm (1661-1733) [MR]
  • Finale (Suite) – Paul Spicer (b.1952) [MR]
  • Allegro, Choral and Fugue – Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) [RJ]
  • Fughetta on Bach (from Op 123) – Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901) [RJ]
  • Rond-o! (from 1712 Overture) – Rupert Jeffcoat (1970-) [RJ]
  • Badinerie (Suite No 2) – Johann Sebastian Bach [PC]
  • Berceuse and Finale (The Firebird) – Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) [PC]

NOTE: Birmingham Bach Choir will not be singing at this recital.

St Chad's Cathedral Birmingham Organ.jpg
Above: St Chad’s organ
By James BradleyFlickr: IMG_5197, CC BY 2.0, Link


Read more about Birmingham’s organs via Artefacts Magazine: Our Majestic Organs (Feb-Apr 2020 edition) – via Issuu



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.

2019 was the choir’s centenary, a year which saw the choir make a series of special appearances, including a Gala Concert in Lichfield Cathedral and a performance for royalty.

“Consistently excellent … so young in spirit.” Birmingham Post on the choir’s centenary (November 2019)

“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)

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