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Videntes Stellam – a carol by Chelsea Haward
At our Christmas concert at Lavenham church on 14 December the Bury Bach Choir will sing a carol written by one of our own members, soprano Chelsea Haward.  Videntes Stellam (seeing the star) is an ethereally beautiful depiction of the Magi bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh to the baby Jesus.
Chelsea, who was born and bred in Bury St Edmunds, read music at the University of Edinburgh for four years and followed her BMus (Hons) with an MA in Applied Psychology of Music at Leeds University, focusing on background music and how it affects cognitive performance. She has been in the choir for four years, since returning to Bury to teach piano and continue composing.

‘When I’m composing music’, Chelsea says, ‘I always use the words as my inspiration – I’m fascinated by etymology and different languages and how they link together, and how you can portray their meaning in music’. She wrote her first music, a piano piece about H…
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Christopher Moore – Piano four hands secondo
Christopher started his musical career when he was very young: ‘my grandmother played piano, organ and violin and sat me on her knee at the piano as a baby to get me interested!’ He started piano lessons when he was eight, oboe at eleven and organ at thirteen. He worked for a firm of organ builders for a year after school and then read music at Durham University, where he played the organ a lot. 
Christopher taught in schools and churches in Dorset, London and Sussex before moving to Cambridge in 1986 to take up the post of Director of Music at Great St Mary’s. This was a great challenge, he says, ‘but I enjoyed it, I built up the choirs, had a new organ, very supportive vicars, a lot of autonomy and a lot of fun! It became quite a centre for music and still is’. In 1998 Christopher moved to Sudbury while he was working as an examiner for the ABRSM, ‘because I fell in love with a beautiful old house which I had great fun restoring – arc…
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James Recknell – Piano four hands primo

James was the Bury Bach Choir’s rehearsal accompanist for around ten years under its former Music Director, Fred Oxley, and rejoined us as our hugely liked and respected accompanist in the early 2000s. He regularly plays the piano, harpsichord or organ at our concerts and is accompanying the choir at our concert on 16 November for both the Choral Suite from Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man and as the primo player in Brahms’s piano four-hands arrangement for Ein deutsches Requiem.

Keyboard playing has always been James’s passion and by the age of twelve he had passed his piano exams up to Grade VII. James went on to study music at Cambridge University and took lessons on the new harpsichord at Magdalen College. His first teaching job was in maths, and James thinks ‘there is definitely a correlation between music and maths, I did both at ‘A’ level – I suppose it’s to do with the analytical part of the brain’.

While he was teaching maths he took some o…
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Brahms Requiem and piano four-hands
At our concert on 16 November at The Apex, our performance of Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem will be accompanied by two pianists – James Recknell (the choir’s accompanist and keyboard player at our concerts) and Christopher Moore – playing one piano. This piano four-hands version was transcribed from the orchestral score by Brahms himself.
Although his Requiem was conceived and written for a large chorus and full orchestra, Brahms also made two piano arrangements, one for two hands, and the four hands version that will accompany the choir at the concert. Each version has equal authority although the performances are inevitably different, and in each version the power and sincerity of Brahms’s invention shine through.

So – why do this at all, and why do it for one piano rather than two? The main reason is that one piano is more easily available than two, and massively more available than a full orchestra! The first known piano four-hands works …
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How Brahms composed his German Requiem

On Saturday 16 November the Bury Bach Choir will perform Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem accompanied by piano four hands – one piano played by two people, James Recknell and Christopher Moore. The concert will also feature soprano Helen Bailey and baritone Tom Asher. 
Although his Requiem was conceived and written for a large chorus and full orchestra, Brahms made two piano arrangements, one for two hands, and the four hands version that will accompany the choir at this concert. Each version has equal authority although the performances are inevitably different, and in each version the power and sincerity of Brahms’s invention shine through.

Future posts will discuss piano four hands - and our pianists and soloists - in more detail, but this post considers the work itself.

As its title suggests, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) is not a requiem setting in the conventional liturgical Latin tradition of Mozart or Verdi. Rather, b…
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Bury Bach Choir singers – James the tenor
Whether you’re working, studying or enjoying the freedom of retirement, and whatever you sing – soprano, alto, tenor or bass – come and join us as our new term starts on 4 September.
This post features the third of three interviews with current members of the choir, to give you a bit of encouragement!
James, a tenor, is one of the Choir’s newest members, joining in January 2019.He is a GP.
James lived in Bury through his primary school years, then went away to school and university.There wasn’t a job here for him after that so he lived in London for 35 years, singing in small choirs. He says he’d been back in Bury for about a year and hadn’t been singing, so it was time!He was determined, though, not just to join the first choir he came across and took time to find the right one. ‘One of the things that attracted me to the Bury Bach Choir was the opportunity to sing big stuff, which I’ve never done’, he says.‘It’s very different, if you sing i…