Previous Concerts...

WDCS - 'The Sprig of Thyme'

From our Musical Director, Edd Caine...

Dear WDCSers!

Thank you so much to everyone that took part in the concert on Saturday. It was an enormous pleasure to conduct and despite being fewer in numbers I felt it was one of our most secure concerts to date.

Thank you especially for sticking with me and learning the John Bevan Baker and Andrew Downes pieces. When I planned this concert I had three main goals - Goal 1). Accompaniment - make as little of it unaccompanied as possible. Goal 2). Learn larger pieces or sets of pieces so that the concert wasn't 'bitty' and we had something larger to sell. Goal 3). Keep the costs relatively low, so that we have more chance of performing bigger concerts in the other terms. These goals immediately made me think of 'Songs of Courtship' written by my old piano teacher, and some digging brought up John Rutter's Sprig of Thyme, which I thought would be a perfect accompaniment. Andrew Downes passing away in January gave me the last piece of the concert, and it was a perfect opportunity to join with other groups in honouring his work. (Tony Bridgewater's duet Midland Dances was a cheeky bonus!)

I realise that throughout the process the Bevan Baker has been divisive amongst you but I really feel that for those that persisted with it, this challenge has been a very positive one, and I can't believe myself to be the only one that thoroughly enjoyed the concert, especially Songs of Courtship. Despite the odd slip here and there it was a fantastic rendering of quite a challenging work.

One of the real highlights to me will sound a little cruel, but turning around in rehearsal to see Cynthia, Andrew Downes's widow, in floods of tears at the sound of your rendition of his works will stay with me. Her and Paula told me later that it was like he was there in the room. It fills me with pride that we can honour another composer this way, and with such quality. Thank you to everyone for making Paula, Cynthia and our booster Claire all feel so welcome - if there's one thing that our visiting musicians and singers feed back to me is how friendly and welcoming the choir are and it's a source of happiness to me.

Despite my ambiguous relationship with Rutter's works, I found myself halfway through Sprig of Thyme wishing that it didn't have to come to an end. By then everyone was so comfortable and singing so beautifully. I felt the atmosphere was cosy and beautiful and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Thank you as ever to the committee - Richard D, Eileen, Richard F, Denis, Neil, Stella, Candy, Stephanie and Carole as well as to the continuing and immense support of Henry, Mike H and Mike C. Your work makes my job so much easier and I couldn't do it without you.

Thank you to Paula and Mike H, our fantastic soloists, and to Jonathan Clarke, who I'm sure you will agree has embedded well as our 'live in' accompanist and assistant MD!

I'm really looking forward to seeing you all back again next term when we shall be performing traditional Christmas Carols, new Christmas works and Vaughan Williams 'Fantasia on Christmas Carols' in not less than two concerts!

Happy Holidays!

Edd x

July 2023

WDCS - Mozart Requiem & Vesperae solennes de Confessore

From our Musical Director, Edd Caine...

Oh Choir my Choir !

I hope you agree Saturday's concert was in my opinion one of the best yet. Despite my misgivings about balance during the afternoon, you (the choir) really pulled the stops out in the evening concert and so many people including myself and the soloists remarked at what a professional and big sound you made. Despite the vespers being challenging you made an excellent sound and the first half was very exciting. I have very little to mention in my email because it was that good! Well done for coping with the challenging vespers - I even saw some of you looking up every now and then! And the Requiem despite one errant bass entry was a real pleasure to conduct - a dream come true!

I hope you agree the soloists and orchestra were also excellent. I have the orchestral leader and fixer Sally Minchin to thank for fixing such brilliant players - it made my job very easy, and I'm so glad to be able to support the young singers Harry (bass), Ellie (mezzo) and Ciara (soprano) who are still studying at Birmingham - I hope you agree they were worth the support and this kind of opportunity will help launch their career which judging by the talent on show should be a long and successful one. It was also great to have Ed who is steadily making his name in the area as a 'go to' tenor and whom I've had the pleasure of working with on numerous occasions now.

Thank you so much to the members of the committee that worked really hard to make this happen. My role is arguably crucial but it wouldn't exist without their support - Thank you to Candy for her diligent work as librarian, and to Stella who stepped up her role as Orchestral/Soloist liaison and worked hard to make sure our musicians were well greeted and looked after. Thank you to Mike Hayward (whom we missed in the basses!) and Neil Stockhall for your great work on the staging, which made the event run very smoothly and look great. Thank you to Mike Coope whose brilliant work on publicity we could not do without and to Richard Finlinson, stepping into his role as Financial Officer with passion and dedication, as well as providing great support to the tenors and basses on the day.

Last but far from least thank you to Eileen for keeping everyone in check (especially for reminding me about the Offertorium), to Denis for his invaluable support, to our outgoing chair Henry for is continued advice and support and of course our new chair Richard Devney, who has been working extremely hard behind the scenes to keep the ship running smoothly.

It just remains for me to say enjoy a well earned rest and I'll see you next term for some John Rutter folk arrangements (A Sprig of Thyme), and a set of lovely pieces called 'Songs of Courtship' by my old piano teacher - Scottish composer John Bevan Baker.

Happy Easter !

March 2023

WDCS - A French Christmas
From our Musical Director, Edd Caine...

Cher Chanteurs et Chanteuses!
Well, I promised you an adventure, and an adventure you got! I hope you enjoyed our French Christmas concert and especially our wonderful Baroque instrumentalists.

I had to pause during the concert to think about how easy and slow French culture can be. The music of a country that endorses a two hour lunch break is slow, sonorous and exquisite. Sure - we repeat the same music three times verbatim at the end of the mass, but each time it is ravishingly beautiful and somewhat understated.

Safe to say, that Agnus Dei has been going round my head for the entire day today. For me, this concert was an enormously special occasion. When I had the opportunity to reach out and almost touch those beautiful Caurroy Fantasies all thoughts of my mis-remembered programme order went out of my head. Indeed I spent most of the day wrapped in the beautiful french sonorities we were performing - forgetting to eat, trailing off in conversation, hardly able to think of anything else!

Thank you for being so patient and so solid during the concert day - I spent so much time worrying about the ensemble and soloists that I hardly remembered to acknowledge the fact that despite being a few members down, the choir was rock solid during the rehearsal. It was a huge comfort to me that while I worked through the complicated parts with instrumentalists that are much more experienced at playing baroque music than me, you did me a huge favour by appearing so well rehearsed and singing so confidently and beautifully! I was so proud to showcase your hard work to such incredible musicians. I really think that in this type of music, we are a force to be reckoned with.

I often think that it is a shame that we don’t get to perform these concerts more than once, and refine them to get them right. So often people will come up to me afterwards and say “we buggered up here and there” - of course you did! So too did the seasoned professional musicians in front of me, and so did I by forgetting a whole section of my meticulously planned concert! (Sorry, and well done for coping!). It’s only through repetition that we get to iron out these mistakes - a luxury we are not afforded. So I prefer not to dwell - in my opinion your performance in this concert was the best yet, of the concerts that I have conducted, and along with the Faure and Durufle concert it will be filed very close to my heart as a very special experience.

I hope like me you enjoyed exploring the French Baroque and the sonorities of the baroque orchestra. With any luck we’ll be able to explore some more!

Thank you hugely to our readers, Sheila, Mike H, Candy and Denis. Thank you also to Henry for arranging the reading, and for his huge support this term as usual, arduous as the task must be becoming towards the end of his reign as chair. Thank you to Mike and Neil for their excellent work as stage managers, and to Candy for saving me on occasions too numerous to count in her role as librarian. Thank you to Mike for his excellent and patient work on the programme, fabulous publicity and advertising materials and to Sheila for her sterling work on the box office. Thank you and best wishes to Eileen - a huge shame that she fell ill on the concert day. You might not know but in my interview for Musical Director, I floated the idea of doing the Charpentier, and it was her delighted reaction that convinced me to forge ahead with this crazy concert. To Eileen and the others that had to drop out - so sorry you had to miss it, and get well soon.

Thank you to Jon Clarke, who I believe we are to be bringing on board as our official accompanist and deputy MD. Thank you also to Sally Minchin, our instrumental fixer - when I tentatively put in my request for a Theorbo, I had no idea that I would get Lynda Sayce, one of the reputed best in the country!

What else is there to say? Thank you all for taking this challenge on and congratulations on an excellent performance. See you again next term for more familiar territory - Mozart’s great Requiem in D Minor, along with his Vesperae de Sollenes de Confessore.

Wishing you all a Joyeux Noël, and see you in the new year!

December 2022

WDCS - A Summer Solstice
From our Musical Director, Edd Caine...

What a fantastic night last night. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I felt it was a cathartic release after a difficult and busy term for everybody. We had so many illnesses and holidays to contend with, and I would be the first to admit that I aimed quite high with the repertoire chosen. Another thing to remember (both for myself and for you) is that only two terms ago we came out of lockdown and started rehearsing and performing again.

Nevertheless we pulled it off, and with some brilliant performances. I’m very glad that my “Summer Solstice” theme seemed to work well and I’m keen to revisit the structure at another time, but with some easier repertoire, given the shortness of the term.

My highlights from this concert - I hope especially that you enjoyed getting to know Bainton’s “And I saw a new heaven” - one of my favourite anthems - it’s trickier than it looks, but tonight’s performance was the best you’ve sung it easily, and it was a joy to conduct.

Extremely well done with the Moeran - a set of pieces I’ve wanted to revisit since I started conducting, and was introduced to them by the conductor I ended up replacing.

John Oxley’s performance of Silent Noon - one of my all time favourite songs - was so beautiful. His daughter came up to me after the concert and told me how much she enjoyed the concert and especially the Faure.
Everyone commented on how much the enjoyed Zadok! Very much our wheel-house and well performed!

Sumer is icumen in worked! Hooray! Well done to everyone for remembering your part and my apologies that my errant technology slightly ruined the effect at the end.

Il este bel est bon - wonderful! Well done for not falling to pieces or rushing - a great performance!
I’ve especially enjoyed getting to know Boulanger’s “Hymn to the Sun”. As stated previously, it’s important to me to program female composers. I realise I haven’t done enough in that regard (we had enough new material to learn as it is), however I thought this piece came across powerfully and we overcame its technical difficulties admirably.

I hope you all enjoyed Callum’s performance of the “Raindrop” prelude - I’m so glad to be working with such a talented accompanist, and he ushered in the evening with a fearlessly exposed performance!

Eileen’s performance of “Sleep” by Ivor Gurney was absolutely wonderful. Listening to both her and John I felt very privileged to be working with such good singers, and special credit given for matching the hall’s 9 foot grand piano.
The Faure was solid, as was the Long Day Closes. Well done to the sopranos for keeping up the line despite being a few down.
Extremely well done to the readers as well - I especially enjoyed The Passionate Shepherd and The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, the Anointment of Solomon King (Well done on the pronunciation Dennis!) and of course my favourite bedtime book Goodnight Moon.

Many thanks to everyone that made it happen - especially Mike Hayward for his stage managing - a crucial role in yesterday’s concert. Thank you also to Mike Coope for his wonderfully professional programme and posters, and to Candy for her usual tenacious performance as Librarian, without whom we would be stuck without. Thanks also to Henry and Eileen for their tireless behind the scenes work. Thanks to all committee members for putting up with my unusually busy term and slow email turnaround!

Have a lovely summer and rest, and hope to see you next term for a programme of French Christmas music, including Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit!

July 2022

WDCS perform both Fauré and Duruflé Requiems
From our Musical Director, Edd Caine...

But what a day Saturday was! I shan’t lie - there were points during this term where I thought “Have I bitten off more than I can chew?” The Durufle, magnificent piece though it is, was a challenge for even the (I hope you agree) fantastic orchestra of professional musicians that Lindy had gathered for us.

However, whatever caused it, whether it was sheer panic or not, you have never been more present and watched me more closely than during that piece, and as a result I have to say it was by far my favourite part of the concert. The sound you and the orchestra made at the high point of the Kyrie had me in absolute raptures and from that point on I was on cloud 9. There are always things that could be better, entries that could be cleaner, but at no point did anything fail, and the sound that the choir made in the biggest moments - “Hosanna in Excelsis” in the Sanctus, “Dies Irae, Dies Illa” in Libera Me, and “Libera eas, de ore leonis” in Domine, Jesu Christe displayed to me what a rich and exciting sound you can make as a choir.
Whatever your feelings about the piece, I salute every one of you (altos especially) who stuck with this piece this and sang it in the concert. There are some remarkably exposed moments, especially for the Sopranos and Altos. There were also some difficult harmonies all of which felt solid in the performance. I hope, like me, that you found a new love of the work, which I now passionately admire.

Don’t worry - I haven’t forgotten about the Faure! Your performance was and was always going to be magnificent. This was the piece I chose because I knew you’d know it backwards and do it well. If anything it was me who had my head still a little too much in the score during this one.
I hope you enjoyed the performance of our three soloists Ciara, Lawrence and Suzie as much as I did. I was especially impressed by Ciara’s performance - only a second year at the conservatoire, and such a lovely tone! All three were impressed by how friendly and welcoming the choir were, and I hope to have them back again, along with Ed Harrison, who did a sterling tenor boosting job!

My one lasting regret for the concert is that there weren’t more people there to enjoy it! This will change - it is the result of bad timing unfortunately, and next year will be a very different story hopefully. Most importantly I felt that with this concert you did Beryl proud.
Finally a some huge thanks are due to the following:

Candy, who is carrying out her role as librarian with such efficiency and brilliance that I simply can’t catch up! Always being there with extra copies and anticipating next terms needs makes keeps everything running very smoothly and saves me so much work!

Mike Coope, for his excellent work on the programme, posters and fliers which I hope you will agree are professional quality, far above the usual fare for amateur choirs
Mike Hayward, for his excellent work in planning the staging and processing for the choir, and keeping the concert running smoothly and without a hitch. Mike’s work again assures a level of professionalism which elevates the performance enormously.

Lindy, for her extraordinary service to the choir, and for the wonderful orchestra. Lindy will be replaced by Sally, who did a fantastic job in the afternoon of keeping the orchestra and string section on task. If you not aware of it the leader of the orchestra (Sally in this case) is in some way my interpreter - she makes sure that communication flows well between the conductor and the players, and she did a fantastic job thereof. I look forward immensely to working with her again.

I’m simply running out of superlatives for Henry and his tireless optimism and pragmatism. He shall be sorely missed when he finally steps down, and he has been an immensely supportive person to me in these last two terms.

Finally, thanks to the rest of the committee for their work on ticketting, publicity and other areas, and to you for showing your faith in me in putting on this concert.

See Photos >>

April 2022

 WDCS performs its first concert for several months - Nowell ! Nowell !
From our Musical Director, Edd Caine...

Where to start?
I enjoyed conducting Saturday’s concert hugely and I hope you shared my enthusiasm. You were all so present, and ready and able from the moment you sat down in rehearsal a full 10 minutes ahead of its start. My first inkling that the concert would be a success was when we started singing “In Dulci Jubilo” and suddenly had to adjust to a new acoustic – one in which we can hear each other and ourselves! One in which creating a big round choral sound was effortless and I could finally hear what the WDCS sounded like – a beautiful, accomplished choral society with some very strong singers.

As to the concert – well! Despite the tiniest of wobbles in Britten (from which you recovered remarkably!) I am so proud of how you have taken on the challenge of all the new and unusual things I’ve thrown at you. In Dulci Jubilo was sublime.

Well done to Clare and Neil for their solos in In the Bleak Midwinter, and the choir made a wonderfully rich and responsive sound in that one. Well done on the challenging I wonder as I wander, especially getting that pianissimo! Dulce, Jesus Mío – what can I say sopranos? What a lovely big round sound everyone else when we came in forte. Fruit Pastilles Kyrie – so pleased with how you coped with this – it’s a wonderful piece and you easily did it justice.

But it was part 2 in which I feel you relaxed and really got into your stride – Sir Christémas was exciting and fun. Procedenti Puereo sounded amazing to me, and a whole different beast in the acoustic and with a real organ. In the Stillness went really well (well done Sopranos!). Tony Bridgewater approached me afterwards to tell me how much he enjoyed your performance of Christmas Bells and I heard many comments about how much you seemed to enjoy singing it – at least as much as I enjoyed conducting it! Gloucester Wassail was totally brilliant – well done John, Clare and Mike for your solos, and Harry for his drumming. Apparently, I was inches from falling from the podium to my certain death while stomping!

Despite my appeal for stooges, I can’t help but feel that the lengthy applause at the end was at least in part genuine, and I struggled to stop them to squeeze Gaelic Blessing in (Sopranos – about 95% this time I think!).Thank you to our readers who did a super job. My mum (in the audience) remarked that they were better than those she had heard in an Ex Cathedra concert two nights before (our concerts shared The Journey of the Magi). I felt that you all treated your readings sensitively and dramatically. I was especially pleased to see my crazy medieval text choices working so well in context (well done Denis and Judith!) and one might say that Henry managed a passable Yorkshire accent!

Moments I will cherish from the concert – looking out and seeing every one of you all looking back at me. Being able to communicate non-verbally with nearly 50 people whom I met only three short months ago but whose faces are now very familiar to me. The Altos coming in bang on time in Sir Christémas. The one solo soprano that forgot briefly that the basses introduce Ding Dong Merrily on High. The few of you that forgot to take your masks off after the interval. Hearing some of your voices clearly for the first time outside of Smestow and realising what talented singers we have in our number. All of the lovely comments I had at the end from Audience and Choir members alike, thank you.Finally thank you all so much for your hard work this term. It is easy to forget what an uneasy path we’ve had to tread. We’ve had a new director (who does this E Caine think he is?) a new (if fleeting) accompanist, a new rehearsal venue and a whole pandemic to deal with, which at times has had us reducing restrictions, increasing them, taking our members away and threatening to cancel the concert. What’s more, you haven’t sung together like this for over 2 years, something which you used to do regularly, so hats off for even doing it!

Apparently, it was also the most you’ve sung unaccompanied in any concert – amazing!
Thank you to the committee, who have helped keep everything buoyant and worked hard to make everything work. Thank you to Henry for his unbridled support and optimism, to Eileen for helping to book the venues and dealing with membership and emails. Thank you to Mike Hayward for his stage direction and spare red bow ties and to Candy for brilliantly being on hand with all the sheet music we need in a fix. Thank you to Mike Coope for his hard work on the programme and publicity and to him and Sheila for selling tickets. Thanks also to Denis for his wonderful support and brilliant medieval puritan impression.I am so much looking forward to next term and working on the Faure and Duruflé Requiems and can’t wait to see you all again then.Wishing you the very merriest of Christmases and happiest of New Years

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December 2021

 WDCS celebrates it's 90th year with a performance of Handel's Messiah.

This year is very special for Wombourne & District Choral Society as it is 90 years since the choir was formed back in 1929. As part of the 90th anniversary celebrations, the choir performed Handel's Messiah in conjunction with members of Wolverhampton Grammar School Chamber Choir and the WGS Adult Choral Society. Rehearsals are now underway in preparation for the performance which will be with four professional soloists and an 18 piece orchestra.

The love affair that British classical music audiences have with this oratorio is quite phenomenal. Since its Dublin premiere in 1742, it has been performed by choirs across the land every year since at least 1745. Handel composed his most famous piece in 1741, and continued to work on it after its initial performance, finally arriving at the version we know today in 1754. Impressive solo arias, like 'Ev'ry valley shall be exalted' and 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion' are interspersed with compelling chorus numbers, telling the story of Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and final victory over sin and death.

The concert was held on Saturday 7th December 2019 at St John's Church in the Square, Wolverhampton commencing at 7.30pm. The choir will be conducted by the Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

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December 2019

From our Musical Director, Ian Clarke after the performance...
Hi there, dear choir members.
Well...! If you are still on a high from last night's concert, then good,
you jolly well should be!
What can I say, but thank you for your part in such a stirring and uplifting performance. Backed by terrific soloists, and a great orchestra, you realised so much of what I was trying to achieve to put across and express this monumental work, with all those varieties of style, the lightness of touch, the pathos, and of course the glory and the splendour. There were too many highlights to list, but suffice to say it was worth all that detailed work in the very enjoyable rehearsals, and - I'm sure you agree - the final amen was absolutely thrilling.

Other comments received...
"You must be very proud. Your efforts are bearing fruit. The choir is getting stronger. The addition of the young voices from WGS is surely contributing to that. Superb young soloists and a clean, vibrant orchestra added to a subtle and powerful choir made for an excellent evening. Thank you! “
"Just had to say how much we enjoyed tonight's performance. What a treat it was. Thanks and huge congratulations all round. Not bad for a 90 year old ! “

 Wombourne Choral Society celebrates 90 years of singing.

This year, Wombourne and District Choral Society are celebrating their 90th anniversary having been formed by their Musical Director, Harry England back in 1929. There was a special 90th Gala Celebration Concert to be held on Saturday 13th July 2019 at the Wolverhampton Grammar School, followed by a celebratory Buffet Supper after the concert.

The concert was conducted by the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke and will be mixture of lighter musical pieces including songs from 'Oliver' by Lionel Bart, John Rutter's 'It was a lover and his lass', 'The heavens are telling' from Haydn and many other popular choral pieces which the choir has performed over recent years. The choir of pupils from the Wolverhampton Grammar School will also taking part in the concert.

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July 2019

From our Musical Director, Ian Clarke after the performance...
Dear friends,
Thank you for a terrific concert on Saturday evening, a splendid evening all round, nice and relaxed and varied a programme.
You sang with real commitment, as ever, and it was good to establish a more direct musical contact with the school, which was very much part of our original intent in using the Grammar School Hall. There are some talented musicians at the school, our choristers of the future!
Thank you for all your hard work, and for all those who helped to plan themeal and the wider celebration of our 90th year, great fun, I much enjoyed it. Well done again, and look forward to seeing you in September.
Best of wishes - Ian

 Local choir celebrates it's 90th year by performing the Verdi Requiem.

This year is very special for Wombourne & District Choral Society as it is 90 years since the choir was formed back in 1929. As part of the 90th anniversary celebrations, the choir performed Verdi Requiem in conjunction with the City of Wolverhampton Choir. Rehearsals are now underway in preparation for the performance which will be with four professional soloists and a 35 piece orchestra.

Throughout the work, Verdi uses vigorous rhythms, sublime melodies, and dramatic contrasts - much as he did in his operas - to express the powerful emotions engendered by the text. Requiems come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like Fauré's, are serene, hardly so much as raising their grief-stricken voices. Others, like Mozart's, are melancholic and rousing by turn, snapshots of the composer's music at the time, more than any great comment on the theme of mortality and death. Verdi's, however, fits into a category that's almost a one-off, with Berlioz's Requiem possibly the only other major companion work. It's in the 'blockbuster' category.


From our Musical Director, Ian Clarke after the performance...
Hello, friends,
I must quickly write briefly and say thank you to you all for a wonderful performance of the Verdi! What a work, and what a thrill it was to direct, a splendid orchestra, and cracking solos, but you, the choir, were magnificent, and got a lot of the detail I wanted to achieve, and absolutely got to the dramatic and emotional heart of the piece. I'm going to have those tunes going through my head for days! Well done, I was very proud of you!!

Concert Reviews >> ----- Concert Images >>

 Wombourne & District Choral Society's concert is in 'The Spirit of Christmas'.

Wombourne and District Choral Society performed their Christmas Concert entitled 'The Spirit of Christmas' - A Concert of Seasonal Words and Music' at Beckminster Methodist Church in Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton on Saturday 15th December 2018, commencing at 7.30pm. The concert was conducted by the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

(December 2018)

Wombourne & District Choral Society to perform the Schubert Mass

Wombourne and District Choral Society performed the Schubert Mass in E Flat Major with professional soloists and a 28 piece orchestra.

The concert was held on Saturday 24th November 2018 at the Wolverhampton Grammar School in Compton, Wolverhampton WV3 9RB, commencing at 7.30pm. The choir was conducted by their Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

During the last year of his short life, Schubert composed a phenomenal amount of music. His Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major was composed for the same Viennese church in which he had served as one of Beethoven's pallbearers. This mass was intended for concert, not liturgical use, and it reverberates with Beethovenesque architecture and Schubertian lyricism. The scoring is unique, giving an active role to the three trombones, emphasizing the lower woodwinds and brass, and making hypnotic use of the timpani. Schubert uses a block-like treatment of the orchestra's three instrumental families, which play together in symbolic expression of the working of the Trinity.

(November 2018)

Womborne & District Choral Society's concert is 'Down by the Riverside'.

Following their highly acclaimed performance of the Mozart Requiem in March of this year, the Wombourne and District Choral Society performed their next concert which is entitled 'Down by the Riverside', a light-hearted celebration of all things of a watery nature, in folksongs and ballads, poetry and readings, from a variety of periods and places.

The concert was held on Saturday 14th July 2018 at the Wolverhampton Grammar School in Compton, Wolverhampton WV3 9RB, commencing at 7.30pm. The choir was conducted by their Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

(July 2018)

Local Choir to perform Mozart's Requiem at their Spring Concert.

At their Spring Concert, the Wombourne & District Choral Society performed Mozart's Requiem, one of the most famous choral works in the classical repertoire. The concert was held on Saturday 24th March 2018 at the Church of St John's in the Square, Wolverhampton commencing at 7.30pm.

The Requiem in D minor, K. 626, is a requiem mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the most famous Choral works in the Classical repertoire.

Mozart composed part of the Requiem in Vienna in late 1791, but it was unfinished at his death on 5 December the same year. A completed version dated 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had commissioned the piece for a Requiem service to commemorate the anniversary of his wife’s death on 14 February.

The autograph manuscript shows the finished and orchestrated Introit in Mozart’s hand, and detailed drafts of the Kyrie and the sequence Dies irae as far as the first eight bars of the Lacrimosa movement, and the Offertory. It cannot be shown to what extent Süssmayr may have depended on now lost “scraps of paper” for the remainder; he later claimed the Sanctus and Agnus Dei as his own.

Walsegg probably intended to pass the Requiem off as his own composition, as he is known to have done with other works. However, this plan was frustrated by a public benefit performance for Mozart’s widow Constanze. She was responsible for a number of stories surrounding the composition of the work, including the claims that Mozart received the commission from a mysterious messenger who did not reveal the commissioner’s identity, and that Mozart came to believe that he was writing the requiem for his own funeral. These ‘conspiracy stories’ are largely discredited, but have led to other speculative writings and works, such as the celebrated Peter Schaffer play ‘Amadeus’, which have to some extent perpetuated the myth.

In addition to the Süssmayr version, a number of alternative completions have been developed by musicologists in the 20th century. However, the Süssmayr remains the version favoured in the vast majority of performances, retains the authentic voice of the time itself, and is much-loved by choirs and audiences alike.

(March 2018)

Come pull a 'Christmas Cracker' with Wombourne & District Choral Society

Wombourne and District Choral Society performed their Christmas Concert entitled 'A Christmas Cracker' - A Concert of Seasonal Words and Music' at Beckminster Methodist Church in Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton on Saturday 16th December 2017, commencing at 7.30pm. The concert was conducted by the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

(December 2017)

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Thrilling performance of Dvorak's Stabat Mater

At their Autumn Concert, the Wombourne & District Choral Society performed Dvorak's Stabat Mater. The Stabat Mater is a Latin hymn compiled by the Franciscan Monk Jacapone di Todi, the Crucifixion scene viewed from the point of view of Jesus's grieving mother. Dvorak's setting is one of the composer's most profound and moving sacred works. First performed in Prague in 1880, the work quickly found favour, with performances in Budapest, and then in England, where, in 1884, at London's Albert Hall, Dvorak himself conducted. Its tumultuous success won the composer worldwide fame, and has remained an enduring favourite with singers and players.


What can I say but thank you for a thrilling performance of the Dvorak yesterday! Well done indeed on producing the goods once more...there were some lovely, and telling moments, Virgo virginum has never sounded better, and the Amen chorus at the end was stunning, especially with the glorious soloists leading, but so much was so good, I thought we really got to the heart and emotional core of the music, and whilst quite hard intensive work for me, I still enjoyed every minute, so I hope you did too.
A pity I was still awake at 3 in the morning with those tunes buzzing around my head, but that goes with the territory! Hopefully I'll be well recovered by Monday evening, so look forward to seeing you again then!
Thanks again for a memorable and stunning concert, fantastically done!
Very best wishes, Ian

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Womborne & District Choral Society's concert is the 'Best of British'.

Following their highly acclaimed performance of St Matthew Passion in April of this year, the Wombourne and District Choral Society are now busy practising for their next concert which is entitled 'The Best of British', a light-hearted celebration of the four home nations of the British Isles, in folksongs and ballads, poetry and readings, from a variety of periods up to the present day.

The concert was held on Saturday 15th July 2017 at the Wolverhampton Grammar School in Compton, Wolverhampton WV3 9RB, commencing at 7.30pm. The choir was conducted by their Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

(July 2017)

Audience praises performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion in Wolverhampton Church.

The performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion by Wombourne and District Choral Society received high praise from many members of the audience, which filled the church of St Johns in the Square in Wolverhampton.

After a gloriously sunny day, the choir of 80 members together with the Chameleon Arts Baroque Orchestra from London and professional soloists conducted by the choir's Musical Director Ian Clarke welcomed their special guest the High Sheriff, Dr. Keith Bradshaw and his wife Pam before beginning the performance of what is regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music.

The conductor Ian Clarke commented "What a work! One I've always wanted to conduct, and it was a privilege to perform it, and with such a wonderful combination of forces, too. A great orchestra, with lovely solo players and an excellent organist and continuo section: fabulous soloists, the fine Evangelist, tenor Ben Alden, baritone Piran Legg singing the words of Jesus with great expressiveness and beauty, Soprano Rosie Lomas and Mezzo-Soprano Emily Kyte adding extra colour and gloss to the performance, all these singers rising stars in the musical world: and the choir too did magnificently, and can be justly proud of their achievement, giving a vivid account, committed, dramatic, both soulful and spiritual. I couldn't have asked for more, and the performance will live long in my memory."

The next two concerts in 2017 to be given by the choir will include 'The Best of British - A celebration of the best of British music' on Saturday 15th July followed by a performance of Dvorak's 'Stabat Mater' on Saturday 25th November, both concerts being staged at their new venue of the Wolverhampton Grammar School in Compton.


Local choir to perform official UK premiere of Christmas Anthem from America.

At their Christmas Concert at St Mary and St Chad's Church in Brewood, Wombourne and District Choral Society performed amongst other seasonal words and music, the official UK premiere of the Christmas anthem 'All Praise to Thee' by American composer, Elaine Hagenberg.

Elaine Hagenberg's compositions have been awarded and performed by churches, schools, universities, honor choirs and choral festivals throughout the United States and abroad. Notable performances include the National Youth Choir at Carnegie Hall, the C. S. Lewis Foundation Symposium in Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, England, the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, North Wales, the Melbourne International Choral Festival in Australia, North Central and Central American Choral Directors Association Conferences, the Green Lake Fellowship of American Baptist Musicians National Conference, the Texas Collegiate Women's Choir Festival, All Virginia State Chorus, the 2017 Arkansas All State Chorus, the Iowa State University Honor Choir, the Iowa Choral Directors Association Opus Honor Choir, performances with the American Boychoir, as well as international performances in South Africa and throughout Europe.

The anthem was introduced to the choir by Pattingham musician, John Fellows and so impressed their Musical Director, Ian Clarke that it was decided to include the piece in the choir's Christmas Concert entitled 'It's Christmas Time'. The concert took place on Friday 16th December at St Mary and St Chad's Church in Brewood, commencing at 7.30pm. The concert will be conducted by the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke and accompanied by the renowned organist, Mark Pescott.

(December 2016)

Wombourne & District Choral Society to perform the St Paul oratorio by Mendelssohn.

Likely to be the first performance in the West Midlands for over a century, members of Wombourne and District Choral Society are busy rehearsing the oratorio 'St Paul' by Mendelssohn for their next concert, on Saturday 26th November 2016 at the Church of St John's in the Square in Wolverhampton, starting at 7.30pm. Musical Director Ian Clarke will conduct, the work will be accompanied on the organ by Mark Pescott, and the title role sung by Welsh baritone Gwion Thomas, a Tutor at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

In 1831 Mendelssohn was commissioned by Johann Schelble, conductor of the Cecilia Choir and Orchestra of Frankfurt, to compose an oratorio. The Bible was a constant source of inspiration for his choral works, and Mendelssohn here turned to the life of St Paul. Given his high regard for the choral masterpieces of Bach, Handel and Haydn, it is no surprise to find that St Paul is modelled on similar lines, Using a typical integrated scheme of recitatives, arias and choruses, the story begins with the martyrdom of Stephen, and Saul's collusion in this act. Saul's persecution of the Christians is then followed by his dramatic conversion, in which the voice from heaven, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' is strikingly given by 4-part women's chorus. Part II finds Paul and Barnabas becoming the ambassadors of the Church. Their duet is followed by one of the oratorio's best-loved choruses, 'How lovely are the messengers'. We then hear of the Jews' attempted entrapment of Paul the work ending with Paul leaving his church at Ephesus and sailing for Jerusalem, and new challenges.
The first performance on May 22nd 1836 took place at the Lower Rhine Music Festival in Düsseldorf. Its first performance in England was given in Liverpool in October 1836, and the following year Mendelssohn himself conducted it at the Birmingham Festival, to enthusiastic acclaim.

(November 2016)

Spend a nautical evening of song with Wombourne & District Choral Society

Bring your waterproofs when you come to the Wombourne & District Choral Society's next concert which will be an evening of nautical songs and readings, entitled 'The Sea! The Sea!'.

The concert was held on Saturday 16th July 2016 at the Beckminster Methodist Church in Penn Fields, Wolverhampton, commencing at 7.30pm.

The choir with their conductor, Ian Clarke, performed several pieces with a nautical flavour, including four sea shanties, 'Blow the Wind Southerly', 'O Mistress Mine', 'Sea Fever' with John Oxley as the soloist, 'The Willow Song', excerpts from Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Pinafore', plus a new song 'All Must Sail Away' composed by Claire Lakha, a choir member, and arranged by our Musical Director, Ian Clarke. There was also several readings by choir members, again of a nautical nature.

(July 2016)

Wombourne & District Choral Society to perform a Spring Concert of Passion Music

Wombourne and District Choral Society's are busy rehearsing for their next concert in March to be called 'Music for Passiontide' and to include 'The Crucifixion' by John Stainer, Sacred works by Brahms and Mendelssohn and the 'Five Lenten Motets' by Antonin Tucapský. These will be performed with the organ and soloists, conducted by the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

The concert was held on Saturday 19th March 2016 at the Church of St John's in the Square in Wolverhampton WV2 4AT, commencing at 7.30pm.

Sir John Stainer, born in London in June 1840, was an English composer and organist whose music, particularly The Crucifixion, was very popular during his lifetime and afterwards. His work as choir trainer and organist set standards for Anglican church music that are still influential. He was organist at Magdalen College, Oxford and subsequently at St Pauls's Cathedral. He was also active as an academic, becoming Heather Professor of Music at Oxford. He retired due to his poor eyesight and deteriorating health, dying unexpectedly whilst on holiday in Italy in 1901.

Antonin Tucapský was born in 1928 in Czechoslovakia, where he studied before beginning his career as composer, teacher and conductor. He studied choral conducting and graduated from Masaryk University, Brno in Music Education and Musicology. In 1951 whilst teaching, he became a member of the well-known Moravian Teachers' Male Voice, later becoming their choirmaster. He gained his PhD in 1967 and in 1975 he moved to England and became a Professor of Composition at Trinity College of Music in London where he remained until his retirement in 1996. His compositions have been published across the world and he died on September 9th, 2014 at the age of 86.

(March 2016)

Wombourne & District Choral Society to perform Haydn 'Nelson' Mass and Vivaldi 'Gloria'.

Wombourne and District Choral Society's next concert performance in November will centre on the 'Nelson' mass, originally called the 'Mass for Troubled Times'. It was written at a time of intense fear for the citizens of Austria, whose army had been defeated in four major battles by Napoleon Bonaparte. His army had crossed the Alps, and even threatened Vienna itself. Haydn's mighty choral work is now forever associated with Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory over Napoleon and is, according to Joseph Haydn's biographer, arguably the composer's "greatest single composition". This wonderful work is scored for strings, three trumpets, and timpani, reflecting its martial background.

Vivaldi's Gloria has a gloriously sunny nature, and is characteristic of all of the composer's music, its distinctive melodies and driving rhythms giving it an immediate and universal appeal.

The programme will also include a glittering concerto for three trumpets by Telemann to help to raise the roof!

The concert was held on Saturday 28th November 2015 at the Church of St John's in the Square in Wolverhampton WV2 4AT, commencing at 7.30pm. The choir was conducted by their Musical Director, Ian Clarke and accompanied by professional soloists and orchestra.

(November 2015)

Wombourne & District Choral Society performs 'A Song for all Seasons'.

Following their highly acclaimed performance of Brahms Requiem in March of this year, the Wombourne and District Choral Society are now busy practising for their next concert which is entitled ' A Song for all Seasons'. The Concert will be an evening of light music and readings on the theme of the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and will include an eclectic mix of music from Purcell to Rutter, with readings from Shakespeare to P G Wodehouse and beyond.

The concert was held on Saturday 18th July 2015 at Beckminster Methodist Church in Birches Barn Road, Penn, Wolverhampton WV3 7BQ, commencing at 7.30pm. The choir was conducted by their Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

(July 2015)

Local Choir to perform Brahms Requiem in St John's Church, Wolverhampton

Following their highly acclaimed performance of Handel's Messiah back in November 2014, the Wombourne and District Choral Society are now busy practising for their next concert which will feature Brahms Requiem.

This Requiem is not primarily a Mass for the dead. Instead, it is intended as comfort for those who mourn and who feel the pain of the death of others. By the time he began writing the work in 1865, Brahms had just experienced such loss extremely personally: his mother had died that very same year.

The concert was held on Saturday 28th March 2015 at St John's Church in the Square in Wolverhampton WV2 4AT, commencing at 7.30pm. The choir will be accompanied by a piano duet (Samantha Carrasco and Nicholas Salwey) together with guest soprano and baritone soloists, all conducted by the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

(March 2015)

Previous performances include:

November 2015 - Haydn's Nelson Mass and Vivaldi's Gloria

July 2015 - A Song For All Seasons. Songs, Poetry and Piano Duets for the 4 seasons: from Haydn to Rutter

March 2015 - Brahms Requiem

December 2014 - Handel's Messiah

July 2014 - Pack up your Troubles. A programme to commemorate the First World War

April 2014 - Jongen Mass Op 130 and Bruckner Motets

December 2013 - A Dickens of a Christmas. A programme of readings and carols

November 2013 - Vaughan Williams 5 Mystic Songs and Sea Symphony

July 2013 - The Ages of Man - including Rutter's Childhood Lyrics, Madrigals, Readings and Music by Finzi and Sullivan

March 2013 - Faure's Requiem, Cantique de Jean Racine, Stanford's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, and Mendelssohn's Hear My Prayer

November 2012 - Mendelssohn's Elijah

July 2012 - This Joyful Jubilee - Music of the two Elizabeths including, Zadok the Priest, and The Kind Shall Rejoice by Handel, Choral Dances from Gloriana by Britten, Madrigals and Vaughan Williams Three Elizabethan Part Songs

March 2012 - 'Come and Sing' Handel's Messiah

March 2012 - Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo by Michael Flanders and Joseph Horovitz, with St Nicholas' First School, Codsall

December 2011 - Carol Concert

November 2011 - Rutter Requiem and Schubert Mass in G Minor

July 2011 - 'I was Glad': a celebration of English anthems

April 2011 - Bach Mass in B Minor with the Chameleon Arts Orchestra of London using period instruments

December 2010 - Christmas concert performing Vivaldi's Gloria and Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio, with Carols

September 2010 - Choral Workshop 'The gift of Singing' performing Rutter's Requiem

May 2010 - Joint concert with our French partner choir, Chorale Chantemoy

March 2010 - Music for Holy Week, including Durufle's Requiem and the first performance in the West Midlands of Antonin Tucapsky's The Sacrifice

December 2009 - Israel in Egypt by Handel, with Christmas carols and the Hallelujah Chorus

Autumn 2009 - An Abundance of Anniversaries - a choral workshop on behalf of the Churches Conservation Trust, including works by Haydn, Handel, Mendelssohn and Purcell

Summer 2009 - Summer Music - a further selection of English madrigals, including John Rutter's Birthday Madrigals, opera choruses and piano duets

Spring 2009 - The Creation by Haydn

Christmas 2008 - two performances of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, including Five Mystical Songs and Fantasia on Christmas Carols

Summer 2008 - Summer Music - a selection of English madrigals, opera choruses and piano duets

Spring 2008 - Petite Messe Solennelle by Rossini

Christmas 2007 - two performances of Messiah by Handel

Summer 2007 - Concert Party featuring a selection of madrigals, opera choruses and other light works

Spring 2007 - St John Passion by J.S.Bach

Christmas 2006 - Saint Nicolas by Britten, Magnificat by John Rutter

Summer 2006 - Liebesliederwalzer by Brahms, Three Elizabethan Partsongs by Vaughan Williams

Spring 2006 - Requiem by Mozart, Zadok the Priest by Handel, The Heavens are Telling by Haydn

Christmas 2005 - Farewell concert for retiring Musical Director David Parkes, featuring Rossini's Stabat Mater and Borodin's Polovtsian Dances

Summer 2005 - Concert Party featuring Hiawatha's Wedding Feast by Coleridge-Taylor, and individual items by choir members

Spring 2005 - 2 concerts of varied music with a European theme, in partnership with French choir 'Chorale Chantemoy', including premiere of David Parkes' Sephton Motet

Christmas 2004 - Gloria by Poulenc, Evening Canticles by Parkes, Ave Maria by Rachmaninov

Summer 2004
- Summer Song by Dvorak

Spring 2004 - A German Requiem by Brahms

Christmas 2003 - Nabucco by Verdi

Spring 2003 - various ecclesiastical works by English and French composers

Christmas 2002 - A Christmas Cantata by Honegger

Summer 2002 - HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan

Spring 2002 - The Dream of Gerontius by Elgar

Autumn 2001 - 'Come and Sing' Requiem by Mozart and Zadok the Priest by Handel

Summer 2001 - The New Moon by Romberg

Spring 2001 - Gloria by Vivaldi and Dixit Dominus by Handel

Christmas 2000 - Requiem by Rutter and Stabat Mater by Parkes

Summer 2000 - The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan

Spring 2000 - Requiem by Verdi

Autumn 1999 - 'Come and Sing' The Messiah by Handel

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