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Bury Bach Choir sings Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols

The centrepiece of the Bury Bach Choir’s carol concert this year, at the church of St Peter and St Paul in Lavenham, will be Benjamin Britten’s delightful A Ceremony of Carols.

Mainly written in 1942 during his sea crossing from the USA back to Britain (‘one had to alleviate the boredom!’, Britten wrote to a friend), the collection of eleven movements takes its text from The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems and is mainly in Middle English, with some parts in Latin.

Britten and Peter Pears were sailing across the Atlantic on a Swedish cargo vessel which called in at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Britten bought his copy of the poems, eventually setting five of them to music. The voyage was clearly uncomfortable as well as dangerous at the height of World War II, with German U-boats everywhere. Pears described their cabin as ‘miserable, very near the huge provisions Ice Box, and the smell & heat were intolerable, & it was diff…
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Welcoming back Valerie Reid.

We’re delighted that our Co-President, Valerie Reid, will be singing with us at our concert on 10 November to commemorate the Armistice Centenary.

Valerie, a mezzo soprano, will sing the gorgeous Pie Jesu from Duruflé’s Requiem. She says ‘This was one of the first pieces I learnt with my first teacher - Patricia MacMahon - at the Royal Scottish Academy. Although there is not a huge amount for the mezzo to sing it's the most beautifully written textural section of music in any requiem’.

While studying singing at the Academy in Glasgow, Valerie won the Governor’s Recital Prize, two Caird Scholarships and the John Noble Award which, with further support from the Friends of Covent Garden, enabled her to undertake a year’s study at the National Opera Studio in London.

She made her debut with English National Opera as Mercedes in the David Pountney production of Carmen, and this was followed by further appearances as 2nd Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flut…
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Listen to the choir as we prepare for 'War and Peace'.

At a recent rehearsal we were visited by BBC Radio Suffolk, who recorded us as we prepared for our War and Peace concert in the Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 10 November at 7.30pm.

To hear us, go to our website and click on the links near the top of the home page.  You'll learn more about the work we put in to prepare for our concerts, and the fun we have doing it.
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Camilla Jeppeson sings with Bury Bach Choir on 10 November.

Bury Bach Choir is delighted that Camilla Jeppeson is making a very welcome return to sing with us in the Apex at our "War and Peace" concert on 10 November, for the Armistice Centenary; she last sang with the choir in "The Glory of France", a concert of French music in St Edmundsbury Cathedral in June 2014. Camilla seems equally pleased: ‘I am very much looking forward to singing with the Bury Bach Choir again; they are a very welcoming choir and are such a pleasure to sing with’.

Camilla will sing the hauntingly beautiful soprano solos in Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem – relatively short, but of pivotal importance to the piece. She says ‘The recurring plea for peace throughout the score is chameleon-like; at first ethereal, later sobering and solemn and ultimately heart-wrenching, especially so as we will be singing it on the eve of such a momentous anniversary’.

Camilla studied as a pianist before…
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War and Peace – a concert to commemorate the Armistice Centenary.

On 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will perform a concert for Remembrance weekend at The Apex, opening with Benjamin Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury, followed by Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem, and concluding, after the interval, with Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. [see previous blog]

Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury was composed in 1959 for the Pageant of Magna Carta in the grounds of the cathedral. It’s less than three minutes long, for three trumpets, which each play a short solo and then come together for an emphatic and thrilling finale. Because it is so short it is rarely performed, but its evocation of the Last Post, through the clarity of its trumpets, fits our theme beautifully.

Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem began as an organ mass during World War II, but after the death of his father, to whom it is dedicated, he changed it to a requiem mass, and it was published in 1947.

Duruflé belongs to the tradit…
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Vaughan Williams:  Dona Nobis Pacem
On 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will sing Vaughan Williams’ hauntingly beautiful cantata Dona NobisPacem as part of our commemoration of the Armistice Centenary. The concert is supported by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust.
The cantata was commissioned in 1936 for the centenary of the Huddersfield Choral Society, and written amid growing fears of a new war in Europe.  The words come principally from the scriptures and the poetry of Walt Whitman, written during the American Civil War.
Whitman’s poetry seems to have had a profound fascination for British composers in the early 20th century, including Delius (Seadrift), Vaughan Williams (A Sea Symphony) and Holst (Ode to Death).  In 1911 Vaughan Williams began to compose a setting for Whitman’s Dirge for two veterans, but perhaps because he felt it was insufficient on its own, he put it away for 25 years, when it emerged as the solemn fourth movement of Dona NobisPacem, describing the moonlit buri…