top of page

Handel's Messiah

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!

Handel’s ‘Messiah’

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


bottom of page