April 30th 2022
A triumph in the face of adversity.
Our conductor, David Condry, was badly injured and unable to lead the concert. Patrick Allies, our former conductor, stepped into the breach.
Thank you to the soloists and orchestra. All the choir members and audience loved the performance.
Here is a critique by one of our supporters -
"We were wowed by the performance and the atmosphere was terrific. It was one of the most enjoyable and gripping concerts I can remember... Well done all of you in the choir. It was evident you had worked hard."
Here is another - Hallelujah!
On April 10 th the Bach Choir gave its annual Palm Sunday performance
of Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion’. The concert prepares the audience for
the profound mysteries of Christ’s passion and death, and points forward
to the glorious triumph of the Resurrection. The build-up to the BBCS’s
‘Messiah’ had been a combination of unreliable live-streaming and near
tragedy: Fate played a cruel hand in preventing our principal conductor
David Condry from being present to see all his hard work come to
fruition. David was driving to Leeds on what is laughingly known as a
‘smart’ motorway when a car being pursued by the police entered the
dual carriageway from the wrong direction and careered into David in a
collision totalling something like 160 mph. It was a minor miracle that
our conductor survived the crash, and it was a profound relief that he was
able to attend our end-of-term party. He had after all been able to enjoy
the concert on Zoom from his bed.
But who would supervise the final rehearsals and conduct the concert?
Enter Patrick Allies, sometime principal conductor of BBCS and now a
highly regarded director of his own ensemble, Siglo de Oro. Patrick
calmly took the choir through a rehearsal of the remaining numbers; it
had been felt by experienced choir members that the piece had come
together in the final stages under David and then Patrick.
And so the time came for the concert to begin, before a full and expectant
audience, and in the fine acoustic of Holy Trinity. From the opening bars
it was clear that this was to be a very special rendition of Handel’s mighty
oratorio. David had drawn together a distinguished group of London
soloists who soon stamped their class on the occasion. Alastair
Brookshaw conveyed the opening Scriptures with a real sense of wonder
and he was to move the audience with the later ‘Thy rebuke has broken
his heart’. Colin Campbell would tell us a ‘mystery’ in Handel’s sublime
use of arpeggio intervals; the people that walked in darkness had seen a
great light. Rebekah Jones sang with great musicality and warmth of tone,
complementing the striking conviction of the soprano, Christine Buras,
who wooed the audience with her expressive diction and brightness of
Meanwhile one could only marvel at Patrick Allies’ insouciant control
with the baton, as he guided the choir through the tricky runs of ‘And he
shall purify’ and ‘For unto us a child is born’. The usual pitfall of suspect
tuning in ‘Since by man came death’ was confidently avoided, and the
audience rose contentedly for the Hallelujah Chorus. A special word of
praise is due to the small orchestra, in particular the solo trumpeter who
seized his chance to shine. Astute editing of the over-long Part 3 made for
a wonderful climax in the soprano aria ‘How beautiful are the feet’.
The choir’s joint performance with David’s Kingston Orpheus Choir of
the Verdi ‘Requiem’ in Guildford Cathedral several years ago was
regarded by some as the zenith of their achievement, but for sheer
emotional intensity this to me was a performance of more consistent
quality. It was every bit as moving as the Bach Choir’s beautifully
controlled singing of three weeks earlier; and I was grateful to have been
in the audience for two such sublime performances.
John Thompson 12.05.22