Tuesday, 22 December 2015

In Memoriam: Mrs Celia Burgan

Yorkshire Bach Choir is deeply saddened to learn that Mrs Celia Burgan passed away last week. Celia was a familiar face at concerts attending performances right up to October of this year. She was also an incredibly loyal and supportive patron of the choir. It was her gift that enabled the recording of Bach Mass in B minor with Signum Classics during April 2010.  This recording stands as a permanent legacy of both her generosity and Celia's love of the music we perform.  Last year in honour of everything she has done for the choir we renamed our annual award to young singers as the Celia Burgan Award (she is pictured below with the first recipients of the new award).  She will be greatly missed by us all.  

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Artist spotlight - Soprano Bethany Seymour

Our soprano soloist for our upcoming December performance of Haydn Creation is Bethany Seymour.  Bethany pursues a successful career as a solo and consort singer throughout Northern Europe. Bethany sings regularly with Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists with whom she has sung soprano solo on three recordings for Signum Records: Bach St John Passion, Bach B minor Mass and Bach St Matthew Passion.  Recent concert engagements include Mozart Requiem and Exulatate Jubilate, Purcell Dido and Aeneas and CPE Bach Du Göttlicher.


I began by asking Bethany about The Creation. There is a huge part for the soprano soloist and I wanted to know some more about her thoughts on the piece:

For the soprano soloist the music of Creation is a gift which above all gives you the wonderful opportunity to soar vocally.  I love the expansive musical lines and all the expressive things that Haydn asks you to do, for instance, the imitation of birdsong when ‘cooing’. I also get to be two different characters (Gabriel and Eve) which is great.  With both characters you get to interact not only with other soloists but with the choir too.  I particularly love the moment in ‘The Lord is great’ where I weave my voice around the choir ornamenting what they have just sung.  That kind of moment is really exhilarating.  

You performed as a soloist with Yorkshire Baroque soloists in concerts and recordings tell us a bit more about what it is like to sing with them.

When performing with other orchestras it is difficult know what to expect. Performing with YBS is like coming home from a long journey because I know all the players and I feel supported and part of the team.  If I choose to react to the music 'in the moment' and do an extra ornament or change my speed they will come with me. This means I can take more risks as a performer.  

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?

I’ve always wanted to sing in a staged Handel opera. The arias are so exciting and there are lots of arias for impassioned and strong female characters. A role that I’m particularly drawn to is Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare as you get the opportunity to be a truly three dimensional operatic character.  Cleopatra has a huge range of emotions.  She is angry and empowered for all the right reasons.  It is clear from the music that Handel understood the singers and voices that he wrote for.

Which living musician do you most admire?

I’ve always admired Emma Kirkby.  First and foremost because she created her own sound. When she began to make recordings and sing in the public eye she had the strength and foresight to sing in a way that she saw as correct for the music whether it was Mozart or Hildegard. I’ve grown up listening to her sing in a variety of repertoire and she
Bethany pictured with Emma Kirkby and Stephen Varcoe
always captures people’s attention. Audiences want to hear the ‘Emma Kirby’ sound. If you talk to Emma about singing she always encourages you to sing with what you have been given naturally.

What was your worst musical experience?

When asked to do some newly composed music at university I was asked to stand in a bucket of leaves and improvise random notes with no assistance in terms of finding pitches or ideas. Whilst I’m always up for a challenge, I couldn't see how this created a musical experience and with nothing to grasp on to there was no meaning.  Worst of all there was no opportunity to connect with other musical performers which is something I enjoy. Having said all that I still enjoy performing modern music, most especially music that reworks old ideas (such as Steve Reich or Max Richter) or other composers who are more original (such as Eric Whitacre). 

What is your musical guilty pleasure?
From mid-November essential listening for me is Christmas with the Rat Pack.  I love the individual singers and the sheer warmth that comes across in their singing. 

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for young singers / musicians?

You can never stop learning.  No matter how much perform or who you’ve performed with there is always more to learn from each musical experience.

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?

I love cooking especially as this gives an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. I have a huge library of cookbooks.  Friends and family might describe it as a slight obsession. But despite that, I’m not a slave to the cookery book as I enjoy to add my own flavours and love growing my own herbs. 

What would your superpower be?

I think JS Bach seemed to think that all singers had a third lung so that would useful for all those long phrases…..

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Frank Sinatra, French & Saunders (do I get pick a comedy duo?), Benedict Cumberbatch and J.S. Bach.

We look forward to hearing Bethany singing  in what will certainly be a popular performance of Haydn’s great masterpiece with Yorkshire Bach Choir, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists alongside a stellar lineup of soloists.

Tickets are selling fast and are available in advance at the National Centre for Early Music by clicking here: bit.ly/YBCreation 

The York Early Music Festival runs from 4-12 December 2015 and further details can be found here: http://www.ncem.co.uk/xmas

Further details on Bethany Seymour can be found on her website: http://www.bethanyseymour.co.uk/

Monday, 12 October 2015

Introduction to our new concert series 2015/16

YBC have already started rehearsing for the first concert of what promises to be another fantastic year of music-making in York.  This year our programme of concerts covers a huge range of  composers and musical epochs including Allegri, Byrd, Tallis, Gesualdo, Bairstow, Wood, Harris, Haydn, Victoria, Vaughan Williams, Howells, Tippett, Finzi, Monteverdi, Croce, Clinio and, of course, J.S. Bach!

In an exciting new venture we will open our season on the 31 October 2015 with a concert entitled ‘Blessed City: Lamentations and Light’ which is part of the Illuminating York Festival.  Taking place on All Hallow’s Eve (‘Halloween’) our concert will hopefully be a musical counterpoint to the amazing light installations going on around the city. The theme of our concert takes some of our inspiration from Nayan Kulkarni’s ‘Three Graces’ installation which will see  flickering candles appear outside St Michael le Belfrey projected from the building's lantern.

Projection of Nayan Kulkarni's 'Three Graces' outside St Michael le Belfrey

The atmosphere in York over the evenings of the festival is always particularly special as thousands of people come into the city centre to see the illuminations. This atmosphere will transfer into the calm interior of St Michael le Belfrey where, beginning in semi-darkness, our programme will range from the renowned Allegri: Miserere written for Sistine Chapel in Rome, to the tortured and harmonically audacious music of Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responses.  

The second half which focus on the English music of Thomas Tallis with the majestic sonorities of his two Lamentation settings before a switch to the more late Romantic and twentieth century sound world of Edward Bairstow, Charles Wood and William Harris.  The Lamentation by Bairstow will be of particular interest to York audiences as it was written during the Second World War for the Dean of York Minster and has a wonderful, haunting simplicity. The concert ends in uplifting fashion with the golden, sumptuous harmonies of William Harris: Faire is the Heaven and the ecstatic glow of Charles Wood: Hail Gladdening Light.

By coincidence, the birth of light is a notable in the iconic opening of our second concert of the season as we perform Haydn’s celebrated Creation as part of the York Early Music Festival on Saturday 5 December at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall (University of York).  2016 begins with a programme of Victoria motets and psalms on 6 February and continues the mouthwatering opportunity on 12 March to hear three separate JS Bach masterpieces (Easter & Ascension Oratorios & Mass in G minor).  Spring continues with a programme of Songs and Elegies of the English Romantics (including music by Vaughan Williams, Howells, Finzi and Tippett) on 7 May and our final summer concert on 18 June finds brings Italian sunshine with a concert featuring the music of Monteverdi and Croce. The music of Giovanni Croce and Teodoro Clinio is specially edited for this concert and it seems that this will be the first time since the 17th century that much of the music will have been heard.   


Full details of ticket prices and season subscriptions can be found on our website. Alongside the usual reduced prices for full and concessionary seasons ticket holders those under 30 can for the first time this year take advantage of our Under 30s Season ticket which allows access to all six concerts for just £60.

All our concerts (except for the December concert of Creation at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall) are performed in the glorious surroundings of St Michael le Belfrey a historic church which is right in the heart of York beside York Minster.

The opening concert Blessed City: Lamentations and Light takes places at St Michael le Belfrey York and starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 20 June. Tickets priced at £18 (£16 concessions) are available here or on the door.

YBC Concert reminder service: http://bit.ly/1nbRxIJ

Contact details:
Twitter: @YorksBachChoir 
Facebook: Yorkshire Bach Choir
Email: marketing@yorkshirebachchoir.org

Friday, 12 June 2015

Final concert of 2014/15 Season - Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Autograph Manuscript of My heart is inditing
 Purcell concert 20 June

Our 2014/15 season ends with a programme celebrating the music of  Henry Purcell.  The first half of the concert will feature a selection of Purcell's most brilliant, large-scale string anthems.  The grandest is probably My heart is inditing which was composed for the coronation of King James II in 1685.  O Sing unto the Lord (1688) is a wonderfully inventive anthem in several sections which is noteworthy for its colourful, Italianate vocal style. Another similarly large-scale anthem My beloved spake - dating from before 1678 - sets an evocative text from The Song of Solomon with great freshness and imagination. We also perform the joyous Rejoice in the Lord alway (1682-5) popularly known as the 'Bell Anthem' with its pealing string overture.   

Bethany Seymour
The second half of the concert will feature a concert performance of Dido and Aeneas  a relatively compact opera which is undoubtedly one of Purcell's greatest achievements.  It tells the ancient tale of Dido, the tragic Carthaginian queen.  Dido will be sung by Bethany Seymour, a regular member of YBC, who also pursues a successful career as a solo and consort singer.  Alongside the character of Dido, the work is filled with vivid orchestral music and supporting characters who will be voiced by other members of YBC. 2015 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Nahum Tate poet laureate and famous adaptor of The History of King Lear which dominated the London stage throughout the 18th century.  You can read a fascinating article here, written by David Jays, on the importance of Tate's contribution to Dido. All in all, the work offers a economic, but vivid musical journey from its exciting, drama laden overture to the pathos filled final aria 'When I am laid in earth'.

The Purcell concert takes places at St Michael le Belfrey York and starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 20 June. Tickets priced at £18 (£16 concessions) are available here or on the door.

Mrs Celia Burgan pictured with recipients of the Celia Burgan Award
Celia Burgan Award

YBC is delighted to announce that we were were able to award three members of the choir the Celia Burgan Award.  Previously known as the Yorkshire Bach Choir Award, it is given to members of the choir to finance vocal lessons.  The award is particularly aimed at non-music students who specialise in vocal performance and are members of the choir.  This year we were able to give the award to three students at the University of York, Saul Jones, Kasia Slawski and Maddy Power.  Here they are pictured with Mrs Celia Burgan during the interval of our May concert. It is Celia's generous support of the choir over many years that we honour in the renaming of this award.

Beethoven 9 with The Academy of St Olave's

In the week following the final concert of our 2014/15 season we are thrilled to be taking part in the Jessie's Fund 20th Anniversary Concert by providing a chorus for the final part of Beethoven: 9th Symphony. The concert will take place on Saturday 27 June at 8pm in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York. The concert will also feature Beethoven: The Consecration of the House (Overture) and David Blake: Searching the Skies. 

Further details on tickets and prices can be found on the Academy of St Olave's website.

We would like to thank all our friends and patrons for their continued support of the choir.  Details of our forthcoming season in 2015/16 will be made available shortly on our website.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Concert preview: Gloria Tibi Trinitas - Music for the Tudors (Part Two)

Yorkshire Bach Choir February 2015

Part two of our survey of Tudor music is another feast of sound, offering the rare chance to hear the glorious sonorities of two masterpieces of English polyphony. 

We celebrate John Sheppard’s 500th anniversary with his extraordinary In Media Vita (In the midst of life we are in death), a haunting exploration of various texts, including the Nunc Dimittis. Please hear a short excerpt recently recorded in rehearsal at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York:

In addition to this work we perform Taverner's six voice Gloria Tibi Trinitas which is a monument of English choral music and arguably ranks amongst the very greatest of English choral compositions.

Peter Seymour our conductor comments: “After our successful performance of Tallis and Byrd in November 2014, this concert offers York audiences a chance to hear more music from the Tudor treasure trove. Sometimes overshadowed by Byrd and Tallis, the music of Sheppard and Taverner is no less important in terms of scale and musical inventiveness. The Taverner mass is a huge and virtuosic piece which the choir always relish singing".

Don’t miss your chance to hear all these glorious sonorities in the atmospheric acoustic of St Michael le Belfrey, York. 

The concert starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 16 May and tickets are priced at £14 and £12 concessions. Student stand-by tickets will also be available as usual on the evening of the concert priced at £5.00. Tickets are available in advance from this link: http://bit.ly/1G3DmLn

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Artist Spotlight - Conductor Peter Seymour

Peter Seymour
Our associate ensemble the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists have just released a new recording of J.S. Bach St Matthew Passion BWV 244b (Early version)To co-incide with this event we spotlight our conductor Peter Seymour.  In the interview he talks in detail the new recording which uses an edition of an early version of the work prepared by Peter himself. The recording is released by Signum Records and took place at York's National Centre for Early Music using solo voices - one voice per part - in place of the usual choral forces.  The interview gives us insight into his long running association with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists and also touches on some of Peter's interests beyond Bach.     

This is Peter's first recording of the Matthew Passion but he has performed the work on countless ocassion with various groups.  I began by asking him why he keeps returning to this particular work: 
As with all great music, there is always something new to find to make it worthwhile and rewarding to perform them again and again. Sometimes this is new performing information; sometimes it is having to, or choosing to, find different solo teams (both vocal and instrumental) and seeing how they respond one-to-another. When we performed it live last year, the performance was considerably longer than our usual length and that brought a new perspective to the piece.

For this particular occasion you record and early version of the work (BMV 244b) which it is thought was performed on Good Friday.  What do you think a typical audience member could have expected as they walked into ‘Bach’s’ church on that particular day?

New recording released by Signum Records
Bach must already have amazed his performers and listeners in the first 12 months of his time at Leipzig. Pieces such as Magnificat and St John Passion, both composed in his first year there, would have presented a considerable musical challenge to the performers - though one I’m sure they could meet. His audience wouldn’t have heard anything like it, nothing with the vivid and colourful orchestration of Magnificat nor the sustained (operatic) drama of St Join Passion. So, two years after his first passion setting, they would have perhaps expected something special but perhaps nothing on the scale of the St Matthew either in its use of double choir and orchestra nor the sheer length of the piece. The decision to record Bach’s early version came from strong encouragement to do so from our principal oboist Tony Robson who had performed it in London earlier in the year. It wasn’t just for novelty value but also to hear some versions not usually heard such as Bach’s use of lute in the bass aria “Komm, süsses Kreuz” and a bass soloist for the opening aria/chorus of the 2nd part.

As a conductor, how do you approach a long day of recording?
The most important matter for me is the preparation. In this case there had to be not only the usual detailed recording schedule in order to use the time effectively and economically but before that I had had to spend 8 weeks editing the music from scratch. That was a wonderful learning time! I had to consider many matters - how accurate was the manuscript; how much did Bach edit the music in rehearsal and performance; the manuscript is a hurried version so what performance presumptions must Bach have made for the 1727 performance; how many of the changes made in his fair copy (written 9 years later when he had time to make more clear his expectations) would have been incorporated into the early version as a matter of course?

Did anything notable happen during recording sessions for this particular disc?
We all had to re-assess considerable questions - few of the singers had sung all the choruses one voice per part. Hearing the lute obbligato was an exciting moment and made us realise still more clearly what were Bach’s dynamic boundaries. In this early version there is no indication of what instruments should play in the chorales and so we decided to do some with voices and organ only; we’ve never tried that before and it was quite a revelation.

What is special about recording with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists?
YBS has been performing both Passions, B minor Mass, Magnificat and Christmas Oratorio on a regular basis since the later 1970s; we have had the same principals since the mid-1980s so they have a familiarity with not only what I’m aiming for but also with one another’s playing. They have a very strong appreciation of one another’s playing abilities and styles so our individual and collective understanding of the pieces has matured over these years. The parts have been edited over those years too - even Bach’s fair copies expect many decisions of articulation, rhythmic alteration, ornamentation and so on; we have developed a consistent style. One notable area in St Matthew Passion is the role of the chorales - so often delivered without expression - where Bach sets false accents (i.e. on weak beats) to draw attention to important words and syllables. Another important area has been in the use of appoggiaturas in the recitatives; over the last few years we have developed a clear policy (based, of course, on primary source information) as to how the Evangelist, Christus and Pilate deal with these and it makes many telling points - Pilate’s comment/question setting up the structural centre of the piece, the soprano recitative (Er hat uns allen wohlgetan) and aria (‘Aus Liebe’).

What is the hardest thing about performing the Matthew Passion?
Performers of a piece so well known and loved have a duty, the privilege, to represent as faithfully and clearly as they can (at that time) what Bach expects. The line of responsibility from lyricist (St Matthew/Picander) to composer to performer to listener has to be clear and faithful at each point. In some ways the hardest thing is knowing that our understanding will change (although that’s also a very exciting thought!) and we are saying that what we record is our understanding at that moment.

Do you have a favorite moment/section of the piece?
The structural centre of the piece - the soprano recitative (Er hat uns allen wohlgetan) and aria (‘Aus Liebe’) - is a very moving moment. Bach makes it quite clear that it’s the principal message of this Passion by his structural chiasmus, by Pilate’s ‘rhetorical’ question, by his orchestration; the recitative states:” He has done good to us all. He gave the blind sight, the lame to walk…other than that, he has done nothing." The aria explains: “My Saviour is willing to die for love.”

Moving on from the recording, is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform/record yet but would like to?
Bach’s Christmas Oratorio would complete a very satisfying collection, having recorded both Passions and B minor Mass, essentially with the same performers. Also, Haydn’s great choral works, Creation, The Seasons and the wonderful late masses offer fantastic challenges but enormous satisfaction!

Peter in rehearsal with Yorkshire Baroque Soloists
Which living musician do you most admire?
There’s no individual I would wish to highlight but a large number of those I most admire have appeared on these Bach recordings. That is one of the great privileges of being the groups’ director (Yorkshire Baroque Soloists and Yorkshire Bach Choir); being able to choose what you perform with whom is an enormous privilege and honour. 

Who is the composer (dead or alive) that you’d most like to meet?
Well Bach has to be up there. I’d like to know more of what he was trying to communicate. But I would probably enjoy Haydn’s humour and life-affirming faith; a piece such as Creation (which YBS/YBC is performing in December 2015) offers more enjoyment to every player and singer and therefore the audience than any other.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?
I’d love to conduct La Bohème - or sing solo tenor (Rodolfo) - I regularly listen to and conduct Karajan’s recording (with Pavarotti and Mirella Freni) and they seem to follow my beat very easily...

What’s your earliest memory of music?
Singing songs in a car with my family but, more importantly, having piano lessons from the age of seven with a great teacher who talked of very little other than expression.

If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?
A cricketer.

What living person do you admire the most?
Geoffrey Boycott.

What keeps you awake at night?
Not much, but if I wake up I do worry that everyone will turn up for the rehearsals and concert. 

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
1972 when Yvonne and I got married and we were starting our careers, but only if I could know what I know now.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Bach, Handel, Haydn, Yvonne and the rest of my family.

The new recording is available to buy or preview from the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists website and from Signum Records.  It can also be downloaded via iTunes. Later in this year Peter directs the Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists in a performance of Dido and Aeneas on Saturday 20 June at St Michael le Belfrey York.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Artist spotlight - Bass-Baritone Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright
Our second featured artist for our forthcoming concert of Mozart and Haydn is Bass-Baritone Jamie Wright.  Jamie is also a graduate from the University of York and alumni of Yorkshire Bach Choir.  Recently awarded a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music he continues to study singing whilst singing with a number of ensembles. Jamie will be appearing in our performance of Mozart Requiem and Haydn Maria Theresa Mass as the bass soloist.

I began by asking Jamie to tell me a bit more about performing with Yorkshire Bach Choir:
Without a doubt, Bach Choir is one of the things about York I am most grateful for. While studying singing, it is easy to focus so much on future goals and to forget the reasons you decided to pursue it in the first place. Solo work is of course wonderful but there is a special something about performing fantastic music with a large group of people. It was that shared enjoyment and passion that really inspired me the most. I learnt a lot in my time in YBC, and am enourmously thankful for it.

I’m guessing you’ve performed Mozart Requiem before, what do you interests you about this particular piece?
I absolutely love the Mozart Requiem, It’s one of those pieces that you feel you can always go back to and find something you hadn’t caught before. Its a piece of core repertoire for a reason and its going anywhere any time soon, and as a first entry into a piece, not much beats the 'Tuba Mirum' for the Bass (Just as long as its not too slow!).

What do you most enjoy about performing in York?
It's a beautiful city and always a lovely place to come back to. The people are so much more friendly than in London too!

Musically, when have you felt the happiest?
Theres always that buzz when you first see an audience which is amazing. But I think for young singers it is so highly competitive, and easy to worry about whether your voice is ‘good enough’ or ‘in the right place’. When you step back and really just enjoy the music, special things happen and you can really connect with it without being hampered by anything else. My absolute favourite performances have been those when I can really clear my head and simply make the best music I can.

Who is the composer that you’d most like to meet?

What is your musical guilty pleasure?
A mixture of Classic Rock (Led Zeppelin mostly!) and electronic music.

Which leads me nicely into asking, which non-classical musician would you love to work with?
One of the great guitarists, Jimmy Hendrix or Jimmy Page I think. (We could have a trio called the three Jimmies!) They were the sort of performers who really understood the music they were making, I think popular music is missing that far more now.

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?
It’s easy to let singing take up every spare minute, particularly as a postgraduate. I love photography and its great to take a step back with something else that’s still creative.

How do you mostly listen to music?
Spotify. I know its hardly a great model of fairness for musicians but having that amount of music at your fingertips really is so invaluable, as a performer and just for something to get me through a long train journey! If theres music I know I will always listen to I will always download it or buy the CD.

What is your most treasured possession?
Embarrassingly, my phone. I use it for everything when I’m on the go.

If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?
Difficult one, I think as long as there is creativity involved I would be happy, I can’t imagine me doing anything behind a desk for too long! I did want to be a fighter-pilot for a long time, but my eyesight wasn’t good enough.

What keeps you awake at night?
Usually lines from whatever I’m learning at the time.

What would your super power be?
To be able to fly. (I’d save a lot on train fares.)

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Stephen Hawking, Meryl Streep and Boris Johnson

We look forward to hearing Jamie singing alongside other soloists Wendy Goodson (Soprano), Nancy Cole (Alto) & Jason Darnell (Tenor) in Mozart Requiem and Haydn Maria Theresa Mass with Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists on Saturday 14 March at 7.30pm at St Michael le Belfrey, York. 

Tickets are available in advance at the National Centre for Early Music by clicking here: bit.ly/1B5i263

Further details on Jamie can be found on his website: http://www.jamie-wright.co.uk/ 

Artist spotlight - Alto Nancy Cole

Nancy Cole
Nancy is the alto soloist for our forthcoming performance of Mozart Requiem and Haydn Maria Theresa Mass on Saturday 14 March. Originally from Lancashire, she is an alumni of Yorkshire Bach Choir and former music student at the University of York.  Now studying at the Royal College of Music she features as a soloist in a brand new recording of Bach with Yorkshire Baroque Soloists for Signum Records.

We begain by discussing the Mozart Requiem and Nancy commented:     It's a piece clouded in mystery! It's fascinating to think that Mozart never heard the final work as it was left incomplete by his early death. It certainly heightens the drama and the passion. I have sung it many times, and it remains one of my very favourites.

Tell me more about your time in York...
I studied here for two years and so it's always wonderful to return. It's such a welcoming place to come back to. Each time I come back it never feels like I've been away that long. And not a tube in sight!

What is the hardest thing about performing?

After all the preparations, the best thing you can do in performance is trust you know what your doing, not think too much and really enjoy the sensation of performing. Sometimes that can be the most difficult thing, but can lead to the best performances.

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?
I would love to perform the Sea Pictures with full orchestra one day. I've sung them with piano in the practice room but unleashing them with an Orchestra would be amazing.

Which living musician do you most admire?
I think Bryn Terfel is a fantastic personality. I love the way he sings classical music with such energy. He sings such a versatile amount of music, not just classical, without every compromising quality.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

Music theatre. I've seen Wicked four times. 

Which non-classical musician would you love to work with?
I love folk music and how atmospheric it is. Dan Tyminski is one of my favourite artists - such a fantastic voice and spirit. 

When you’re not practicing or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?
After having resisted for many years, I like to exercise. Particularly with friends, like planning cycle trips or runs with obstacles...a group of us conquered a 'tough guy race' last year. And going to the theatre.

What keeps you awake at night?
Usually fragmented words of songs I'm learning going through my head. It can get very complicated in there.

What would your super power be?
The ability to remember everything you ever learnt.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Damien Lewis, Beyoncé, Joyce DiDonato, Emila Fox & Stephen Sondheim

We look forward to hearing Nancy singing alongside other soloists Wendy Goodson (Soprano), Jason Darnell (Tenor) & Jamie Wright (Bass) in Mozart Requiem and Haydn Maria Theresa Mass with Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists on Saturday 14 March at 7.30pm at St Michael le Belfrey, York.

Tickets are available in advance at the National Centre for Early Music by clicking here: bit.ly/1B5i263

Further details on Nancy Cole can be found on her website: www.nancyceciliacole.com

Nancy features on the new recording of JS Bach’s early version (1727) of St Matthew Passion (BWV 244b) which has just been released by Signum Records further details can be found here: Details of new recording

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Back to Bach

Back to Bach

A very happy new year to all our followers! 

After such a memorable performance of Messiah in December we are excited that our first concert of 2015 - exploring the motets of the Bach femily - is now less than two weeks away. So, as we begin a new year of music-making in York, join us at St Michael le Belfrey on Saturday 7 February to hear the Bach family in all their variety and inventiveness. Famously, the motets of JS Bach have fired the imagination of audiences and composers. Indeed it was one particular composer - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - who is reported to have heard a Bach motet on a visit to St Thomas’ Leipzig and exclaimed: ‘What is this?’ before declaring (allegedly in very high spirits): ‘Now, there is something one can learn from!’.  From JS Bach’s outstanding examples of the genre we select Der Geist hilft, Komm, Jesu, komm and Fürchte dich nicht.


We also move beyond JS Bach to explore other members of the family. Below is a short performance (in rehearsal at the Jack Lyons Concert Hall) of Ehre sei Gott by JM Bach which is included in our programme.  It is a spirited, festive movement which celebrates the song of the angels to the shepherds and very appropriately closes in homage to a new year (For this the host of angels are glad / And greet us with such a new year):


Alongside these works we are presenting lesser known motets by various members - cousin, father-in-law, son - of the Bach dynasty.  JL Bach was a cousin of Johann Sebastian and we sing his Unsere Trübsal and Das ist meine Freude.  Also from JS’s father-in-law John Michael Bach (1648-1694) we will perform Dem Menschen ist gesetzt. Finally, we also explore four extraordinary motets by CPE Bach. Musically, these motets take us right up to the beginnings of the classical style.    

Tickets priced at £18 (£16 concession) are available either in advance at the National Centre for Early Music by clicking here: http://bit.ly/18lemUb or on the door. Student stand-by tickets - priced at £5- are available at the door 10 minutes before the start of the concert.