Bedford Choral Society -  Current Season - 2016 - 2017


Bedford Choral Society 150th Anniversary Concert
Sunday, April 30th 2017
Bedford Corn Exchange - 7.30pm

  • Vaughan Williams - Serenade to Music
  • Tim Grant-Jones - Psalm 150
  • Paul Edwards - Te Deum
  • Mendelssohn - Lauda Sion

  • Conductor - Ian Smith
See the website gallery page for some pictures of the choir and others at the 150th Anniversary concert via this link: Pictures from the 150th Anniversary Concert

Vocal Soloists:

Soprano - Rebecca Bottone

Rebecca  Bottone

Mezzo - Jeanette Ager

Jeanette Ager

Tenor - Simon Berridge

Simon Berridge

Bass - Quentin Hayes

Quentin Hayes

On April 30th 1867 Bedford Choral Society (then 'Bedford Amateur Musical Society') gave its first public performance.

The programme for April 30th 2017 reflects the history of the choir over 150 years, and the whole season is a celebration of English music. Starting with a masterpiece praising music by one of England’s greatest composers, the programme moves on to two commissions:

Psalm 150 has been written especially for the occasion by our accompanist and assistant chorus master, Tim Grant-Jones. Paul Edwards’ Te Deum was commissioned by the Society and first performed to great acclaim in 2005. So, why include Mendelssohn? Because this piece was performed in the very first concert of the Society in 1867 and therefore forms a clear link to the Society’s past history.

Come and share this historic occasion celebrating what we believe to be the seventh oldest choral society in the country.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) - Serenade to Music

Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872–1958) Originally composed in 1938 as an homage to Sir Henry Wood (1869-1944), Vaughan-Williams’ Serenade to Music also pays tribute to Shakespeare by adapting to music a poetic discussion about music from Act V Scene 1 of the 'Merchant of Venice'. In this scene, declarations of love juxtapose with comparisons of music to the movement of celestial bodies and contemplation of the beauty of music by night and by day.

Vaughan-Williams created the work explicitly for sixteen hand-picked solo singers of the time: four each of soprano, contralto and tenor, and two each of baritone and bass. The setting alternates between singers singing alone and together as a chorus.

The exquisite violin solo with which the piece begins serves as an obbligato to the soprano’s delicate, deceptively simple line, “Of sweet harmony”. A trumpet call evokes the spirit of the immortal Diana. The trumpet repeats its call, this time to draw the attention back to light vs. darkness when it comes to music: Sweetness is the recurring theme of the piece, embodied both in language and the melodies. Vaughan-Williams chooses to finish the piece with phrases from elsewhere in the text with solo violin and soprano lines: “Soft stillness and the night…Become the touches of sweet harmony.” A fitting ending to a quarter of an hour of sublime poetry coupled with some of the composer’s most transcendent music.

From an account by Erica Miner, March 24th 2015

Tim Grant-Jones - Psalm 150

Mendelssohn Tim Grant-Jones has been in demand as an accompanist since the age of 11, firstly as a schoolboy at King Edward's, Witley, then as a student at the Royal Academy of Music, and now as a professional.

He won the Kate Leventon prize for accompanying, and after graduating, continued with a year of advanced studies and performance on a further scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music before gaining a PGCE at London University, Institute of Education. After graduating, he began with a year of advanced studies and performance at the Royal Academy of Music and the gained a Certificate in Education at London University, Institute of Education.

His career began as a music teacher in schools in Bedford, but private teaching, coaching and accompanying were soon to dominate. In 1985, he played the entire keyboard works of JS Bach in one continuous 13-hour recital to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of the great composer.

Tim composes and arranges music primarily for pupils at the piano, but the largest output has been for the piano trio (ensembles for 6 hands at the piano). He has since gained much experience in the use of music software for printing and recording music. In 1996 he produced a CD album of piano music and songs which has so far raised about £12,000 for charity

He has been an examiner for Trinity College, London since 1990 and is responsible for designing their new grade exams in piano accompaniment and selecting the set pieces. Trinity have recently published Tim’s 2 books which were written specifically for the exams and which are available worldwide. Tim has since become a published authority in arranging orchestral accompaniments for piano.

Tim's setting of Psalm 150 has been specially composed for the 150th anniversary of Bedford Choral Society

Paul Edwards - Te Deum

Paul Edward's Te Deum

Paul Edwards (born on March 19th 1955) was brought up in the village of Turvey, Bedfordshire and educated at St Paul’s Choir School and Bedford Modern School. He was a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral for four and a half years and then spent an equal amount of time as lay clerk at Peterborough Cathedral. He has served as organist and choir master at several churches in Bedfordshire, including All Saints, Turvey and St. Paul's Church, Bedford. He is also active as a teacher, piano accompanist and choral singer.

Paul has made a series of recordings of the historic organs of North Bedfordshire. He has transcribed and edited ten volumes of 18th century English Organ Music published by ANIMUS. The opus numbers of his compositions rise to almost 450. They include about 150 hymn tunes and a large number of anthems. Many of these works have been published in collections including Hymns for Today’s Church, Psalms for Today and Carols for Today . His carol No Small Wonder , written in 1983 to words by Paul Wigmore, first appeared in Carols for Today in 1986 and was recorded on LP by Canterbury Cathedral Choir and subsequently heard in the famous Nine Lessons and Carols service broadcast on the BBC Television by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge in 2000.

Edwards finds inspiration for his compositions in the English countryside, in particular that of Norfolk.

The Te Deum was specially commissioned by Bedford Choral Society and first performed by the Society in Bedford Corn Exchange in 2005. It is a fitting work by a renowned local composer for our 150th Anniversary concert

Mendelssohn - Lauda Sion (Praise Jehovah) Op. 73

Mendelssohn Mendelssohn was commissioned to write his setting of this text by the authorities in Liège to mark the 600th anniversary of the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 11th 1846.

At the time of this commission, Mendelssohn was working on his oratorio Elijah for the 1846 Birmingham Festival, which was in August. He interrupted his work on that to compose Lauda Sion and to conduct the first performance in St. Martin's Church, Liège. He must have worked at great speed, because in May and June 1846 he was also directing music festivals in Aachen and Cologne. Elijah was of course completed on time, but with such work-pressure it is not surprising that a year hence he would be recovering from a nervous break-down; indeed thereafter he had only a few months to live.

The question of Mendelssohn's religion was an issue in his own time and continued since then. As is well known, his family converted from Judaism to Protestant Christianity In his music, he frequently wrote music with connections to both faiths.

This work for chorus and orchestra is one of the masterpieces of Catholic liturgical music written in the first half of the 19th century. Lauda Sion is a hymn. It does not use verses from the Bible but instead the text is by St. Thomas Aquinas. This work, a wonderful blend of Romantic musical taste at its best with the tradition of church music going back to the Renaissance.

In April 1867 Bedford Musical Society (the forerunner of Bedford Choral Society) performed Mendelssohn's Lauda Sion (Praise Jehovah) at its very first concert. This was on April 30th 1867 - exactly 150 years before our performance this year - on Sunday, April 30th 2017

April 2017 poster April 2017 poster

This concert is being performed 150 years to the day since the first ever performance by the Bedford Choral Society (then called Bedford Amateur Musical Society). The programme represents different eras of the Choral Society’s life.

How could this occasion not have a setting of Psalm 150 in it? The lively and joyous nature of the psalm is wonderfully reflected in Tim’s new work which we commissioned for this occasion and we know you will enjoy.

The concert will open with another work commissioned by the Society and first performed by them in 2005. Paul Edwards’ affinity to church music and English music in general are wonderfully demonstrated and reflected in the grand setting of the Te Deum which we are delighted to be performing again.

Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music is one of the most beautiful pieces of choral music ever written. If you have never heard it you are in for a treat!

The ‘pièce de résistance’ is Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion. This work was performed in the first ever concert by the Bedford Amateur Musical Society on Tuesday 30th April 1867 and we are very excited to be performing it 150 years later. Written at the same time as Elijah it is much more rarely heard.

See the website gallery page for some pictures of the choir and others at the 150th Anniversary concert via this link: Pictures from the 150th Anniversary Concert

Page Date : May 2017

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