Birmingham Bach Choir: Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

Concert marks the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff’s birth.
First West Mids performance in living memory!
1 April 2023, St. Paul’s Church, Birmingham

Birmingham Bach Choir celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff with a unique concert.

Taking place on 1 April 2023, at St. Paul’s Church, Birmingham, the concert offers a rare opportunity to hear the seldom performed Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

Written in 1910 over three weeks, the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is regarded as the first of three great choral compositions penned by Rachmaninoff, and reflects his love for the Orthodox chant. Consisting of 20 movements, it’s richly textured and sounds very unlike Western Christian church music.

Despite it’s beauty, the work is rarely performed, often deemed too challenging for many musical groups. But coinciding with Rachmaninoff’s birth date, Birmingham Bach Choir will sing the piece unaccompanied, and in it’s original language (Liturgical Slavonic).

Discussing the concert, Musical Director Paul Spicer said: “It’s a stunning piece, extremely beautiful, which deserves to be more widely heard. The Choir is at the peak of its powers and more than able to take on the challenge of performing it as originally written.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the Liturgy will be sung in the West Midlands in Liturgical Slavonic for a considerable time. In fact, we haven’t been able to find record of another concert performance of it at all, making this a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Born in Russia on 1 April 1873, Rachmaninoff was an accomplished pianist who made his name, both as a virtuoso musician and inspired composer. Well travelled and widely celebrated abroad, the political and civil unrest that defined the revolutionary period led him to flee Russia – first for Germany, and later Switzerland and the United States. He eventually died in California, having taken US citizenship, in 1943. “Music is enough for a lifetime,” he once said. “But a lifetime is not enough for music.”

One of the most influential and famed Romantic composers, among Rachmaninoff’s best known works are Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor (1900) – declared ‘the nation’s favourite classical work’ by ClassicFM – and the choral work, All-Night Vigil, or Vespers (1915). The anniversary of his birth is being marked by major orchestras and musical groups world-wide.

Birmingham Bach Choir’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is at St Paul’s Church, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, on Saturday 1 April 2023. For tickets and more information, see:


Saturday 1 April 2023
Birmingham Bach Choir: Rachmaninoff – Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
Rare performance of the liturgy sung unaccompanied in Liturgical Slavonic. Conducted by Paul Spicer. Marking the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff’s birth.
Tickets: £12-£24.
St Paul’s Church, St Paul’s Square, Birmingham B3 1QZ

Direct link:—tickets.html


24 June 2023, St Mary Magdalene, Bridgnorth, Shropshire
1 July 2023, CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Beautiful Brahms
– Featuring some of Johannes Brahms best choral works.


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 600 years, including 20th and 21st century works, and has premiered many new choral works.

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

The 2022-2023 Season marks Conductor Paul Spicer’s 30th anniversary with the choir.

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