Worcester Festival Choral Society Honorary Officers
President: The Lord Bishop of Worcester
Senior Vice President: The Dean of Worcester
Vice Presidents: Dr Christopher Robinson CVO CBE, Dr Donald Hunt OBE MA, Adrian Lucas MA
The Society, founded in 1861, had close associations with the Elgar family from its early days, indeed several members of the family joined it. Edward led the orchestra and often conducted his own works at its concerts and he wrote two works for the Society, The Black Knight (1892) and From the Bavarian Highlands(1895).
Our programmes have been enterprising; as well as standard works of choral repertoire, they have included contemporary works from both home and abroad.
In 1994, the Society gave the first UK performance of the then recently discovered Messe Solennelle by Berlioz. To mark English Music Year, it commissioned the choral and orchestral work from Donald Hunt, A Song of Celebration that received its highly successful première performance, broadcast, together with Elgar's The Music Makers, by the BBC in 1995.
As well as supplying singers for the Three Choirs Festivals, the Society has sung at many other festivals, notably at King's Lynn and at Elgar Festivals in the Royal Albert Hall and in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. In 1991 and 1992 it was invited to join the BBC Singers and Chorus in Elgar concerts in the Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The Society has broadcast with the BBC Welsh Symphony and with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestras and has contributed to commercial recordings from Worcester Cathedral, including The Crucifixion by John Stainer.
2003 saw the second joint collaboration with Portsmouth Choral Union in performances of Mendelssohn's Elijah in Portsmouth and Worcester.
The Society commissioned a major choral work from Adrian Lucas, Creation Canticles, which was given it's highly successful premiere in 2004. In November 2004 the choir joined forces with the City of Birmingham Choir and the CBSO in Britten's War Requiem in Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
2011 was the year the choral society celebrated its 150th anniversary which started with an epic performance of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast in the Spring concert. An anniversary dinner was held in the Guildhall Worcester, in October, to which the society was honoured to have previous conductors Sir David Willcocks, Dr Christopher Robinson, Dr Donald Hunt and Mr Adrian Lucas all present to celebrate the occasion. Adrian Lucas also led the Society to an inspired performance of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius as the gala concert for our anniversary year.
In recent years concert highlights have included a rare performance of Jonathan Dove’s moving, modern masterpiece There Was A Child – attended by the composer himself – as well as Verdi’s Requiem, Bach's Mass in B minor, Britten’s St Nicolas, Faure's Requiem, Elgar's The Music Makers, and the perennially popular Handel's Messiah heralding in each Christmas.
Since its foundation the Society has now had nine conductors, all being Directors of Music at the Cathedral.
Dr Peter Nardone, our inspirational current conductor, took on the role in 2012 in succession to Adrian Lucas, who had previously held the post since 1997.
Christopher Allsop has been our accompanist since 2004 and has conducted WFCS's performances of Carmina Burana in March 2008, Mozart's Requiem in November 2012 and Messiah in December 2012.
We are delighted to be accompanied at our current concerts by the excellent Meridian Sinfonia orchestra, which draws from some of the UK's most talented musicians.
To find out more: A fascinating history of the Society, A Prevailing Passion written by Mary Parsons, was published by Osborne Heritage (1996). ISBN 1-872962-95-5 http://www.osbornebooksshop.co.uk/p/a_prevailing_passion/category/1071
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