Cheltenham Bach Choir
Cheltenham Bach Choir celebrated the 70th anniversary of its foundation in 2016 with highlights including a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Cheltenham Town Hall accompanied by The Musical and Amicable Society Baroque Orchestra.
With over 100 singing members the choir is privileged to enjoy the active support of President, Sarah Walker, a former chorus member. Under the direction of the choir's previous Musical Director, Stephen Jackson and Assistant Conductor, Tim Morris, the musical standard rose steadily to the point where the choir is now regarded as one of the best in South-West England. There is no doubt that the standard is reaching new heights under the guidance of recently appointed Musical Director, David Crown. The choir's accompanist is Robin Baggs.
One of the choir's chief aims is to study and perform a wide variety of works and offer programmes which have a degree of adventure and originality, including the commissioning of new works.
Each year the choir presents at least four major concerts in venues around Cheltenham, including the Town Hall, the Pump Room, Cheltenham College Chapel and Cirencester Parish Church. Recent programmes have included Bach’s St John Passion, an Evening at the Opera in the Pittville Pump Room, and the magnificent Mozart Requiem with the challenging Dixit Dominus by Handel. This concert was attended by the choir's patron, Anne, Princess Royal.
The choir's reputation is known beyond the local area and as a result invitations have been extended to take part in a number of prestigious events, including the BBC Proms, an Opera Gala in Birmingham Symphony Hall (with the Hallé Choir), Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as part of the Cheltenham International Music Festival, and two appearances in BBC Songs of Praise.
The choir is known for being welcoming and friendly. There is a regular programme of varied social events which usually involve food and drink!
Through the twinning of the town of Cheltenham with Göttingen in Germany, links have been developed with a local choir in the town and the choir regularly exchanges visits with its opposite numbers.
Who's who at CBC
David has been singing and conducting choirs and orchestras since his teens. He won a Choral Scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge and was also a university instrumental award holder on the viola. Immediately after leaving university he embarked on a career as soloist in opera and oratorio winning several competitions and working with some of the world’s foremost musicians.
David has also built a considerable reputation as singing teacher and now teaches at Oxford University having also taught at Bristol University for over five years. Many students have gone on to music college and into the profession. He was Director of Music at Somerville College, Oxford from 2006-2015 building the choir to one of the most highly regarded mixed choirs in the university. He was Music Director of the Reading Phoenix Choir and took them to the finals of both the BBC Choir of the Year and the Cork International Choral Festival. He is conductor of vOx Chamber Choir in Oxford, now considered one of the best choirs in the area. His work with choirs and orchestras has attracted superb notices in the UK and abroad. He is also increasingly in demand for guest conducting and master-classes. The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford has released two CDs on Stone Records (Durufle’s Requiem and Advent Calendar) to great acclaim, the latter of which has been playing on British Airways flights.
Tim was appointed Assistant Music Director in 1998, having filled the post of Chorus Master for the previous nine years and been involved with the choir for over forty years.
Tim’s early musical training was under Eric Suddrick, a founder accompanist for the CBC and one of its former conductors. He went on to Selwyn College, Cambridge where, in theory, he studied Natural Sciences but, in practice, spent most of his time making music. The first concert he conducted on leaving university was in Gloucester Cathedral in April 1973. Tim is well known locally as an accomplished musician. In addition to his CBC role he was, for many years, conductor of the Oriel Singers, winners of the 2005 BBC Choir of the Year competition.
Robin Baggs is in great demand as a choral accompanist. He read music at Trinity College Cambridge, and completed post-graduate studies there in keyboard performance, palaeography and criticism. For a number of years Robin worked as a writer and critic for the ‘Musical Times’ and other publications, and he is currently accompanist to a number of choirs in the Bristol and Cotswold areas.
As a concert organist, tours have taken him to twelve European countries and he recently completed an eleventh Austrian tour.
After many years as Organist and then Director of Music at Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire, he now divides his time between recital work, private teaching and accompanying.
Sarah Walker, CBE
Mr B Atkinson
Mrs M Burgess
Mr J Davies
Mrs E Ferguson
Mrs S Gayler
Mrs J Grant
Mr R Kay
Mr S Pine
Chair: Susan Gargett
Vice Chair: Nikky Shergold
Treasurer: Sue Silcock
Secretary: Shirley Elliott
Membership Secretary: Andrew Gummer
Marketing: David Sykes
Tickets: John Sheppard
It is understood that there are about 25,000 choirs meeting regularly throughout the UK each week. It is also widely known that singing in a choir is good for your physical and mental health as well as being very good for your social life.
Cheltenham Bach Choir is keen to attract new singing members of all ages and voice parts, especially tenors and basses. Sight reading ability is desirable but not essential and entry is by audition (repeated every 3 years).
New members are always welcome to join the choir even if you have not had a lot of experience. You are welcome to come along to a couple of rehearsals to get to know members of the choir before auditioning.
Auditions are normally held on the second or third Tuesday of each term, but do feel free to contact us at any time during the year. It is probably best to join either in September or January so you get to attend all the rehearsals for the next concert. Please contact our membership secretary, Andrew Gummer by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sight-reading is an advantage, but it is not essential. Good musicianship and willingness to practice between rehearsals are key. Auditions consist mainly of scales and vocal exercises. You will not be expected to prepare a piece in advance.
Once you have passed the audition you will join the section of the choir which suits your voice and from then on will be expected to prepare for and sing in every concert. Everyone in the choir is re-auditioned every 3 years; currently re-auditions are scheduled for sopranos and tenors in 2019 and altos/basses in 2020.
NB: The choir provides the ladies’ concert jackets.
Click image for map
As a singing member of Cheltenham Bach Choir a minimum rehearsal attendance rule is required to take part in concerts.
To find out more and express interest in joining the choir please get in touch with our membership secretary Andrew Gummer.
The Choir offers a discretionary bursary scheme to help young people gain experience in choral singing. The bursary covers the cost of subscriptions and music. In return, recipients are expected to participate in at least two major concerts a year and attend the minimum number of rehearsals for each concert as agreed with the conductor or chorus master. The scheme is open to full time students under the age of 25 who have shown a reasonable degree of musical aptitude.
Please contact our Membership Secretary for details if you or someone you know would be interested in applying for a bursary or if you are a potential sponsor interested in supporting the scheme.
The Young Member Scheme is supported by the Cheltenham Arts Council
Schools Cooperation Scheme
Cheltenham Bach Choir run regular choral workshops which are open to all singers, whether or not they are members of the choir. Everyone is warmly welcomed.
If you have considered joining the Cheltenham Bach Choir these workshops are an excellent opportunity to come along for a day of singing while getting to know the Choir and enjoy singing with the choir's Musical Director and Accompanist.
CBC have run a number of workshops in local schools, which have been very well received and enjoyed by all participants. The feedback we have had from these workshops has been extremely positive, from pupils, teachers and Choir members alike.
The workshops receive support from Cheltenham Arts Council and the Trafford Memorial Fund. The content and format of the choir's school workshops can be agreed in advance, depending on the number and ability levels of the children involved.
The workshops can focus on GCSE or A’ Level Syllabi, which have proved to be a popular option in previous workshops.
Please contact our email@example.com for more information.
Hire the choir
Cheltenham Bach Choir are available for hire for weddings, funerals, and other occasions.
The choir you hire can be our main concert choir, or a smaller chamber choir suitable for smaller venues.
The fee will depend on the extent and type of music you choose as well as the location of your event.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
“ We can’t thank you enough for your wonderful performance for our wedding ceremony. The music was a delight and – as I walked down the aisle to Parry – all of my dreams of the moment were realised…
There are times when the uplifting sound of a choir transforms a special occasion into something more meaningful and special.
For church wedding services the choir can sing a special choral work when the bride and groom withdraw to sign the register, and the congregational hymns will sound glorious with the guests singing with the Choir.
Civil ceremonies will take on the feel of a more traditional marriage ceremony with a choral piece included.
“ The music was fantastic and the atmosphere just made the day so perfect!
There are many beautiful, sensitive and moving choral pieces which have been written for funerals and memorials. A special and meaningful piece performed by the Choir during a time of thoughtful reflection can being comfort and a sense of calm for the mourners.
There's nothing like a choir to add a marvellous sense of occasion to a large celebration, a sporting event, or a tribute concert.
With a wide repertoire ranging from classic choral works to lighter popular songs Cheltenham Bach Choir will inspire your audience whatever the event.
Listen to CBC
The sound-bites available here are a sample of Cheltenham Bach Choir
Recorded in concert and rehearsal by Lloyd Silverthorne
Dies Irae (Requiem)
Performed with The Regency Sinfonia
Statue of Giuseppe Verdi in Busseto, Italy. created by Luigi Secchi
Gustav Holst Memorial Fountain, Cheltenham.
Anthony Stones FRBS, FRSA
Blessed is the Man (All Night Vigil)
Monument of Sergei Rachmaninov in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Dies Irae (Requiem)
Sculpture of Gabriel Fauré created by Sébastien Langloÿs. Toulouse, France.
J S Bach
B Minor Mass
Saturday 24 March 2018
Cheltenham Town Hall
The Musical and Amicable Society Baroque Orchestra
Conductor David Crown
Soprano Lauren Lodge-Campbell
Mezzo-soprano Angela Simkin
Tenor David Webb
Baritone Christopher Cull
The concert was the highlight of Cheltenham Bach Choir’s 2018 Spring Festival of the Baroque. This pinnacle of the choral repertoire follows last year’s magnificent performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion.
“ I hadn't been to a choral concert for some time but found the whole experience, including the venue, really enjoyable. The choir, orchestra and soloists performed magnificently under the direction of David Crown's masterful conducting. Impressive and deeply moving.
Dr Patrick Gallagher