Archive for December, 2011

CELEBRATION – A Jubilee Concert

A Saturday evening concert, conducted by David Murray, in Sunderland Minster to mark the Queen’s Jubilee.

Tickets are £12 in  Nave (£6 concessions for full time students and UB40s), £8.00 in Gallery (with limited view) and accompanied children under 16 admitted free. Obtainable via this website or and from online ticketing at

The concert will include the Magnificat in D major – Bach, Ein feste Burg – Bach, and feature Coronation Anthems by Handel. The soloists will be Jessica Holmes – soprano, Ben Williamson – countertenor, Joseph Cornwell – tenor, and Adrian Powter – baritone.

The Magnificat in D major is a setting of the Magnificat text by Johann Sebastian Bach for five soloists, a five part choir and orchestra. Bach first composed a version in E-flat major for Christmas 1723 and then reworked that music in D major in 1733 for the feast of the Visitation. The Latin text is the canticle of Mary, mother of Jesus, as told in the Gospel of Luke.

Ein feste Burg (A mighty fortress is our God) is a church cantata also by Johann Sebastian Bach, which he composed in Leipzig for Reformation Day. It is based on Martin Luther’s chorale ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’.

Many composers have written coronation anthems but the best known were composed by George Frideric Handel. Handel’s four coronation anthems use text from the King James Bible  and are Zadok the Priest, let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall rejoice and My heart Is Inditing. The text for all four anthems were picked by Handel – a personal selection from the most accessible account of an earlier coronation, that of James II of England in 1685. One of George I last acts before his death in 1727 was to sign an ‘Act of naturalisation of George Frideric handel and others’. The first commission for Handel as a newly- naturalised British subject was to write the music for the coronation of George II and Queen Caroline which took place on 11th October that same year. Right from their composition the four anthems have been popular and regularly played in concerts and festivals even during Handel’s own lifetime.


Beethoven concert was an early Christmas present.

The following review of the 3rd December concert was prepared by Keith Nixon for inclusion in the Sunderland Echo but is reproduced here with his kind permission.

The Bishopwearmouth Choral Society’s traditional December concert proved to be the perfect early Christmas present for an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

Conductor David Murray chose an all-Beethoven programme: a popular overture and two rarely-heard choral pieces. It proved to be an inspired choice. Beethoven may not be so well-known as a composer of choral music but this concert by Murray’s terrific group of singers demonstrated that anything a musical genius puts his hand to will always reward the listener.

The concert began with a performance of the Coriolan Overture. The grandeur and tragic heroism of the piece were movingly conveyed by the orchestra and it proved to be the perfect introduction to the concert.

The Mass in C suffers in comparison with its more well-known counterpart, the Missa Solemnis, but it is a great work in its own right. The unaccompanied opening of the Kyrie, the ecstatic joy of the Gloria and the poignancy of the Miserere arestern tests for any choir – Murray’s singers passed with flying colours.

The soloists (Katherine Moore, Sara Parry, Edward Lee and Martin Robson) were excellent throughout. They displayed a genuine sense of teamwork and clearly enjoyed singing unfamiliar repertoire.

Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, which brought the concert to a rousing conclusion, is a bit of a highbrow hybrid – part sonata, part concerto and part chorus. The testing piano part was superbly played by Eileen Bown with a fantastic display of virtuosity which was simply stunning. The orchestra, especially the woodwind and horns, played with great feeling but it was the choir which really
delighted the audience. The warm applause that followed the exciting finale to the piece was richly deserved.

The Bishopwearmouth Choral Society continues to be a musical beacon in Sunderland and this concert was a shining example of de-light.

Keith Nixon