Hilary, our Musical Director and BCS were the winners of the Inspiration Award at the Royal Philharmonic Society in November 2021.
It was a great honour to have been nominated for this award so to have won is thrilling and a huge thank you to everyone who voted for us!
Bristol Choral Society were thrilled to be one of the first choirs to perform at the newly refurbished Bristol Beacon with the wonderful Handel's Messiah.
We have a long association with both Handel's Messiah and Bristol Beacon having performed it over 150 times since our first rendition on 21 December 1892!
Members of Bristol Choral Society spent an exhilarating weekend recording our second CD with Delphian Records in the wonderful Clifton College Chapel.
The CD will be available next summer in the meantime you can read more details below or if you would like to support BCS you can donate to our crowdfunding via the button below.
Over a 100 people joined us for an afternoon of singing Opera Choruses on the 3rd February.
Members of BCS with a warm welcome at registration
The weather might have been dreary outside but our Musical Director Hilary Campbell accompanied by our Assistant MD Steven Kings soon had us warming up and summoning up our acting skills - some more enthusiastically than others!
We traversed a wide repertoire from the familiar including Verdi - imagining we were hebrew slaves, the beautiful Puccini Humming Chorus to the less well known but powerful Bernstein - Make our Garden Grow.
There was, of course, a well earned break for tea and cake and we completed the afternoon by performing the six opera choruses we had spent the afternoon working on, to a very discerning audience!
|This coming year is going to be exciting, as we get back to performing concerts in the Bristol Beacon, and is a great moment to join the choir.
Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings 7.15 - 9.30pm in Broadmead Baptist Church. The entrance is on Union Street, BS1 3HY and is easily reachable via public transport. All ages are welcome and we are proud of having a wide age-range of singers in the choir.
Our dynamic musical director, Hilary Campbell always starts us off with a great warm up and we are fortunate to be accompanied by our assistant musical director, Steven Kings. We are also joined by our cannine member, Hilary's dog Fizzy!
We are currently rehearsing the wonderful Verdi Requiem for our next concert on March 16th in Bristol Beacon.
So if you think you might be interested and would like to sing some Verdi, why not come to our open rehearsal on Wednesday 24th January?
You can just turn up at 7.00pm, Broadmead Baptist Church and you will provided with a score if you need it and are guaranteed a friendly welcome.
If you would like more information about the open rehearsal then you can email our chorus manager and for general information about joining the choir follow the link here.
Bristol Post December 2023
|Bristol Choral Society (BCS) is very excited to be giving one of the first classical concerts at the wonderfully refurbished Bristol Beacon.
BCS have a long and happy association both with the Hall and Messiah.
Messiah was first performed by BCS as the first concert in its 4th season (year), on 21 December 1892 and then every year after
except in 1896 (when Judas Maccabeus was substituted), in 1899 when the Hall was burned down (a fire that started in a clothing factory next door and spread), and in the years 1914 and 1915, during WWI, concerts were suspended as military forces were in occupation of the hall. Messiah was the first concert given during WWI on 16 December 1916.
During WWII the choir continued to give concerts. The choir combined forces with the Bristol Philharmonic Society (which disbanded a few years later) to sing Messiah on November 28 1942.
After the CH burned down in February 1945, the choir sang Messiah (1947 and 1950) in the Central Hall in Old Market (a Methodist hall also used for concerts and now converted into flats) and in March 1949 in St Mary Redcliffe Church.
It was sung every year between 1892 – 1939 except for the four occasions above.
A couple of extracts from a press cutting ( can be viewed in full below) from the Bristol Mercury reviewing the choir's Messiah of 17 December 1906 states:
"the choir numbered 470 voices, and in the orchestra were 110 instrumentalists". Wow!!!
Also: "It was the second concert of the present season, which is the eighteenth of the Society's operations; and the attendance reached proportions that must be gratifying to all immediately concerned in the concerts. The night was not a pleasant one for venturing out of doors - drizzling rain being accompanied by a wintry chilliness not altogether of the bracing sort; and the warmth, brightness, and animation within the hall were in agreeable contrast to the dreariness without. Leading supporters of the Society mustered in strong force, the Lord Mayor occupying his accustomed place in the President's Gallery, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress. The Lord Mayor is one of those who bring with them the score of a work to be performed, following it throughout with critical closeness."
We are very pleased that the Lord Mayor remains one of the Society's Presidents and we continue to welcome them to many of our concerts, with or without their copy of the score!From some time in the 1970s and up until at least the end of the 1980s, we were singing Messiah twice at Christmas. In the latter years we introduced a whole new generation of children to the Messiah with our very popular Mini Messiah, filling the Hall with children and families and helping them to understand the music and the orchestra.
The annual Messiah has thus been feature of BCS since its very early days. Prior to the Beacon, there were four different Colston Halls, and the BCS has sung Messiah in all of them.
It’s a tradition we are proud of, and we will be filling the hall on December 16th once again. Hurry to get your tickets.
Below you can see a performers ticket for Messiah from 1938 (for the performer to gain entry to the building via the performers' entrance)
With thanks to BCS member Julie Parker for providing the historical information.
|Members of Bristol Choral Society enjoyed an exhilarating weekend recording our second CD with Delphian Records in Clifton College Chapel.
Conducted by our inspirational Musical Director Hilary Campbell we were joined by a number of wonderful professional musicians and even two of the composers which was very exciting.
On the Friday soprano soloist Charlotte Mobbs set us off by recording three solo pieces accompanied by our very own Assistant MD Steven Kings. Including Cecilia McDowall's Four Shakespeare Sons, Ralph Vaughan Williams: Orpheus with his Lute and Elizabeth Maconchy: Ophelia's Song.
On Saturday the choir were in full force to record Grace-Evangeline Mason's A Memory of the Ocean, which we premiered in concert in June this year. Once again we were accompanied by Steven Kings on piano, Evva Mizerska on cello and Charlotte Mobbs as our soprano soloist. We were delighted that Grace was able to join us for the recording and provide us with insights into her composition.
The afternoon we spent recording Vauhgan Williams O Taste and See and finshed off with Holst Psalm 148 both with Richard Moore on organ.
Sunday saw us back in Clifton College Chapel, having appreciated the extra hours sleep, to record Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb. As well as Richard on organ we were joined by solists Emily Wenman (soprano), Phillipa Thomas (Mezzo-soprano), Robert Jenkins (Tenor) and Lawrence White (Bass).
Thankfully the voices were still in good shape for the final afternoon recording of Judith Weir's Praise Him with Trumpets and Elizabeth Poston's Festal Te Deum, another two pieces that have not been previously recorded. We were joined by Jo Harris and Neil Brough on trumpets and the choir were honoured that Judith Weir also joined us to advise and inspire us. It definitely improved the performance of the choir.
Hilary Campbell and Judith Weir in consultation
It was certainly a fantastic weekend, hard work and exhausting but exhilarating and we cannot wait until next summer when we will get to hear the final product!
Bristol Post 27 June 2023
Grace-Evangeline Mason: A Memory of the Ocean - a new commission
Women composers and performers are at the centre of the concert on June 24, with works by Elizabeth Poston and Judith Weir also on the programme. The first ever CD recorded by Bristol Choral Society in 2020, ‘The Big Picture’, featured music by Judith Weir. Now there are plans for a second CD in 2023, with Grace-Evangeline’s music at the centre. We invite all music lovers in Bristol to join us for this unique occasion.
For further information and Tickets
Members of Bristol Choral Society took part in a unique event with 650 singers to celebrate Bristol's 650th birthday and the coronation of King Charles III.
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Window from the Ammerdown Centre, Radstock, Wilsthire
50 friendly singers, stunning accommodation in the sunny Somerset countryside, delicious food and a relaxed bar. If that was not enough- there was music!
We had a perfect balance between singing, enjoying the surroundings, sharing meals, enjoying the bar and informal music making.
Hilary chose a rich variety of music from renaissance polyphony to something just a little different to balance our normal repertoire. And of course Steve was the perfect accompanist.
It was just such a relaxing oasis that let us all relax and get to know each other better.
Looking forward to 2024!
Sunday 5 JuneBristol loves a good flashmob and on Sunday 5 June see if you can spot a special rendition of the famous Hallelujah! Chorus from Handel’s Messiah at venues from Temple Meads station to College Green. Members of Bristol Choral Society and their friends and family are warmly invited to attend and even take part in this unique event, organised by St George’s Bristol as part of the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
For more details visit:
Photo: Barbara Evripidou/FirstAVenuePhotgraphy.com
Finally the long awaited concert of Mozart Treasures postponed from March 2020 took place in Bristol Cathedral on 26th March 2022. The longest rehearsal time for any of our concerts but it was well recieved. The concert was reviewed by Samir Savant (CEO, St George's Bristol) ...'lovely sustained tone and carefully paced dynamics'.
On 23 October, Bristol Choral Society celebrated the release of our first recording for choir, piano and percussion with classical label Delphian. Our musical director Hilary Campbell, our virtual host, was joined by judith Weir, Master of the Queen's Music and composer of the disc's title piece 'The Big Picture'. The CD also includes music by Cecilia McDowall and Bob Chilcott.
It was a splendid evening with Hilary taking us through a virtual journey of the CD and playing a number of clips, which can be found here.
The CD is now available in our on line shop.
Hilary Campbell (centre), musical director of Bristol Choral Society, with Chair Joi Demery, recieving the Inspiration Award from John Gilhooly, Chair of RPS.
Hilary our conductor, along with the choir itself, were the proud winners of the 'Inspiration Award' at the Royal Philharmonic Society this week!!
The RPS tweeted their announcement with: ‘Led by Hilary’s unbounded energy, the choir gave stirring renditions of choral works throughout the pandemic, as well as launching their debut CD and a carol commisioning competition'.
Happy New Year to all our friends and audience members!
Bristol Choral Society is delighted to announce the start of a new season for 2022, and with all hopes that more live concerts will go ahead during this coming year. We vastly enjoyed singing the Messiah again just before Christmas, and were so pleased that our audiences also expressed their pleasure at being back in the rhythm of festive choral offerings!
Our upcoming concert now will be just as popular, as it features an all-Mozart programme. So hurry to get your tickets for the 26th March. We'll be in the beautiful setting of Bristol Cathedral, as usual these days. But the tickets are being organised now via a different route - so just follow this link:
or call the ticket office 01452 768 928
Tickets are from £11 to £28, with our usual deal for under 25s at £5
(Please note there is also a £2.50 booking fee)
We are again planning for socially distanced seating, to keep everyone safe, as that worked well at Christmas in the vast spaces of Bristol Cathedral.
You will all know by now our amazing conductor, Hilary Campbell. She has been the recipient of prestigious awards over the last year, and with justification. Throughout the pandemic, the choir rehearsed under Hilary's baton on regular Zoom rehearsals, and in fact our rehearsals are still optionally on Zoom as well as in-person. Hilary and the choir have learnt new ways of tackling music, even though initially of course the option of singing remotely was simply a practical reaction to lockdown. Now we see it can give us even greater flexibility.
The programme for the upcoming Mozart concert was one of the first that we learnt via our Zoom rehearsals, more than a year ago now. And it was so uplifting and magical to be making music in this way, despite all the problems we were facing. Mozart doesn't fail to keep our spirits up, and we are sure you will find the same in our concert in March.
This coming season in 2021/22 is going to be exciting, as we get back to live concerts, and is a great moment to join the choir, if you'd like to give us a try.
Tenors and basses are particularly needed, but don't worry if you are 'just an alto': you'll find a warm welcome! You can try us out by attending a few rehearsals before having a (very friendly) audition to join as a full member. Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings 7-9.00. All ages are welcome and we are proud of having a wide age-range of singers in the choir from 14 years upward. So if you think you might be interested, just fill in the form here or contact our chorus manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
And here is a taste of the repertoire we have covered during the Pandemic. All of this is soon to be coming to a concert hall (or cathedral) near you:
Mozart: Alma Dei Creatoris; Regina Coeli
Finzi: Lo, The Full Final Sacrifice
Imogen Holst: Three Psalms
Bainton: And I Saw a New Heaven
Elizabeth Poston (first public performance): Festal Te Deum
As you can see, we cover both well known favourites alongside new and exciting challenges.
Check out our virtual recording of Rachmaninov here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdqV87fP5CIAnd all our news here: https://www.bristolchoral.co.uk/news
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A particularly innovative scheme in our choir is that we recruit up to four paid choral scholars each year, who are young rising stars, often just starting out on their solo careers. You yourself may want to apply for one of these positions, or you may know people who would be keen. Do please pass on the word!
Right now, we have two soprano choral scholars, and we are looking to recruit alto, tenor and bass scholars. Scholarships can start at any point in the season and are worth £1000. They are ideal for aspiring professional singers aged between 18 and 30, wishing to develop their choral singing and sight-reading and to broaden repertoire knowledge.
They should be prepared to attend rehearsals and to sing in all our performances. Solo opportunities and small ensemble performances also come up during the season, and the choir delights in such brilliant voices in their midst. Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evenings at Broadmead Baptist Church, Bristol. Not only do our choral scholars gain from being part of this amazing musical opportunity, but they also take an active role as ambassadors for the choir on social media and elsewhere.
For further information and application forms please visit http://bristolcs.makingmusicplatform.com/scholars
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