Playing a key role

Brahms’ German Requiem is a repertoire staple of choirs around the world but usually with an accompanying orchestra. It is not often performed with a two-piano accompaniment.

For our 20th anniversary concert, Robin Walker steps out from his regular weekly rehearsal accompanist role to join King’s School Assistant Director of Music and Worcester Festival Choral Society’s conductor Christopher Allsop at the keyboard.

The fact that experienced organist, pianist, choirmaster and teacher Robin also works at King’s School has proved a bonus.

“Working under the same roof has been particularly useful for rehearsals,” he says. “Christopher and I have not played together before and it has been an enjoyable and very useful experience. Using two pianos throws us a few more challenges, such as keeping the big chords together of particular note!

“Just synchronising everything, particularly in the more energetic moments, takes some practice,” agrees Christopher.

“But it’s such a wonderful score that it’s a privilege to be able to play it on one’s own instrument.  Also, working with a pianist colleague like Robin is rewarding, both socially and musically.  Both of us working at King’s has certainly made scheduling rehearsals together easier!”

Practising has also required two pianos. “This arrangement uses all of both keyboards, so you would keep crashing into each other if there were two of us at just one piano.” explains Christopher. 

However, audiences need not think they’ll be hearing a ‘cut down’ version of the full orchestral score.

“While both of us get a good share of the orchestral writing, very often the independent piano parts are quite different, adding variety,” says Robin.

For our conductor Stephen, using the piano version neatly avoids the possibility of repeating the disaster of the work’s 1867 premiere.

“A timpanist wrongly read an instruction to play at full volume and proceeded to drown out part of the Third Movement,” he reveals.  “A contemporary critic wrote that the singers were intent on ‘shouting each other down wildly,’.  Maybe they were trying to drown out the percussive din.”

The concert takes place in St Martin’s Church, London Road, on Saturday, April 6, at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Eventbrite, from 01386 860389 or on the door.

A touch of gloss

We love it when our concert activities make the news, so we’re singing the praises of Country Lifestyle and Leisure Magazine, which recently supported our 20th Anniversary Brahms Requiem concert with this great article on one of its glossy pages.

We’re now on the home straight with our preparations for this concert in St Martin’s Church, London Road, Worcester, on April 6 (tickets available through the link on our home page or here). Featuring the composer’s own two-piano arrangement, it’s going to be something special.

You can read the County Lifestyle and Leisure Magazine article online here.


Just the ticket

Now it’s even easier to buy tickets for all our concerts. Now available via Eventbrite, they’re just a click or two away when you follow the links on our home page or on our Facebook event listings.

Currently available are tickets for our 20th Anniversary Concert – Brahms Eine Deutsches Requiem – on April 6, 7.30pm, in St Martin’s Church, London Road, Worcester.

We’ll post purchasing details for future events as and when they’re available.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

We are part of Elgar Festival 2019!

We are so excited and honoured to be joining the English Symphony Orchestra for this festival performance of Donald Fraser’s acclaimed choral arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

It is such a privilege to be part of this concert that is also a 100th anniversary gala celebration of Sir Edward’s Cello Concerto, which will be performed by world-leading musician Raphael Wallfisch in the cathedral.

With the theme ‘Elgar for Everyone’ festival organisers are determined to engage people of all ages and walks of life in the legacy and music of the city’s world famous son. A jam-packed programme of activities includes the chance to play one of the great man’s own pianos.

For Raphael Wallfisch the Elgar festival’s ethos couldn’t be better demonstrated than through the Cello Concerto, which was conceived during the dark years of the First World War as Elgar recuperated from an operation. However it was initially a flop.

“Elgar was to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and the young British cellist Felix Salmond but the rest of the programme, at the Queen’s Hall that October 1919, was conducted by Albert Coates, who was in fact my wife’s grandfather,” says Raphael Wallfisch. “Albert took the bulk of the rehearsal time, and a mere 30 minutes were left for the concerto. 

“The performance was not good and the orchestra unprepared. The public and critics were puzzled and unsure about the new work and Felix never played it again.

“It took a number of years, and distance from the Edwardian era and World War 1, for it to be realised how powerfully evocative and nostalgic the music is. I am greatly looking forward to performing this now beloved work in Worcester with the ESO.”

The June 1 gala evening also includes Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony.  

Other festival concerts include music from professional chamber choir The Proteus Ensemble, Elgar and Debussy sonatas from violin virtuoso Zoë Beyers and a song recital featuring the more familiar voice and piano version of Sea Pictures.

Alongside this busy programme are educational workshops, talks, poetry readings, a new version of the Elgar Trail, a Cello Day for families and young people and an Elgar for Everyone Family Concert in Malvern College, hosted by narrator Ben Humphrey.

“Every once in a while, we need to step back from a very popular work like the Cello Concerto and remind ourselves of why it resonates so deeply with so many millions of listeners,” says Elgar Festival Artistic Director Kenneth Woods. 

“We want the festival to create the conditions whereby even the most jaded Elgar fan can hear this most personal work with fresh ears.

“The Cello Concerto was my pathway into the world of this great composer whose music has had such a profound influence on my life,” he continues. 

“From my first encounter with it as a young cellist in America, it cast a spell on me, and after all the times I’ve since played it, heard it and conducted it, its power and honesty continues to amaze me. 

“To conduct this 100th anniversary performance  with Raphael in Elgar’s home city, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills whose profile helped inspire the work’s opening melody, is more than a dream come true. I would never have dared dream something so crazy, so unlikely. I can’t wait.”

For full booking and event information, go to or visit the event’s


Donning our fund-raising dancing shoes

Ae ye dancin’? We’re is swapping singing for Stripping the Willow – and want you to join us.

We’re putting on our dancing shoes for a fund-raising ceilidh this Saturday, February 9, and, with a bow to the recent Burns Night celebrations, are including a haggis supper in the ticket price.

Featuring Midlands barn dance band The Cat’s Whiskers the 7.30pm evening (to which you’ll need to bring your own bottle) is shaping up to be a note-worthy event.

Tickets cost £15 and are available from Jenny Smith on 0788 2417858. For further information visit the choir’s Facebook page or go to

Partying on at Evensong

Our Evensong this weekend will be a bit of a birthday party – with civic dignitaries and leading county arts and religious figures on our guest list. 
We’ve invited friends, sponsors, supporters past and present to join us and the congregation for the service which is our 20th Anniversary Evensong and is followed by a celebration reception in the Chapter House.
Saturday’s occasion is our first big event in this special years which also includes a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem in April and a summer gala dinner, not to mention our fund-raising ceilidh on February 9 in Peopleton Village Hall (more anon).
Reception attendees will be able to enjoy a bit of celebration birthday cake and the opportunity to find out more about our plans for the future.
“We’re a high quality and innovative group which alongside our regular cathedral service and concert programme commitments, is looking to work in partnership with local organisations for mutual benefit,” says our MD Stephen. “We are also committed to bringing further ambitious and innovative programmes to the city that will not only add to its cultural life but reinforce Worcester’s reputation as a great place in which to live, work and visit.”

Saturday’s anthem is Parry’s Hear My Words, Ye People. Listen to us sing it here on our CD Rise Heart.

Sing as we go into 2019

Forgive us for singing our own praises but what a surprise festive gift it was to find ourselves broadcast to the world on Christmas Day!

It came courtesy of our friends at Classic FM who featured our recording of O Little Town of Bethlehem, from our Sing Choirs of Angels CD, in its Nation’s Favourite Carol countdown.

Coming swiftly after our appearance on local BBC Hereford and Worcester featuring a clip from our new carol The Infant King, which was commissioned from Worcester composer Ian King, the brace of broadcasts helped us to sing out 2018 on a high.

But we’re now really getting into the swing of our 20th anniversary year and, following only a brief festive pause, we’re back to full rehearsal mode this week to continue our preparations for our Anniversary Reception and Evensong on January 26 (in Worcester Cathedral) and our grand gala concert – Brahms’ Requiem on April 6, in St Martin’s Church, London Road, Worcester.

However, those early rehearsals will also see us working on what will be a poignant start to 2019 – our participation in a special service of thanksgiving for former organist and master of the choristers at Worcester Cathedral, Dr Donald Hunt, who sadly passed away last August. His drive, talent and inspiration were hugely influential in Worcester and way beyond and we are honoured and delighted to be part of this forthcoming occasion.

Away from the concert platform we’re getting ready to put down our folders and put on our dancing shoes for a fabulous fund-raising ceilidh. Featuring a live band and taking place at Peopleton Village Hall on February 9, this toe-twinkling evening is destined to bring in a few notes of the sterling variety to help swell our own coffers. A buffet supper is included in the £15 ticket price so come and help us dance the night away! Please bring your own drinks – you’ll need to slake that massive dance-induced thirst! Contact Jenny Smith ( for tickets and details of payment methods.

So, are you dancing? Are you singing? Are you listening? 2019 is shaping up to be a busy, fun and hugely musical celebratory year. Come and be part of it with us!

New Director of Music for the cathedral appointed.

The Chamber Choir wishes to join with the rest the cathedral organisations in congratulating Samuel Hudson on his appointment to the post of Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral. The cathedral press release follows:

The chapter of Worcester Cathedral is delighted to announce the appointment of Samuel Hudson as organist and director of music at Worcester Cathedral.  Sam has been the director of music at Blackburn Cathedral since 2011, where he is also the artistic director of the Friends of Blackburn Cathedral Music, and he regularly works for the BBC as organist and director of the Daily Service.

The Dean of Worcester, the Very Reverend Dr Peter Atkinson, said, ‘We’re enormously pleased that Sam has accepted our invitation to come to Worcester, and we know that he’ll make an invaluable contribution to Worcester’s distinguished musical tradition.’  The precentor, the Reverend Canon Dr Michael Brierley, said, ‘I’m hugely excited by Sam’s appointment, and am very much indeed looking forward to working with him, and to welcoming him and Louise to Worcester.’

The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Reverend Peter Howell-Jones, said, ‘While I’m delighted by Sam’s appointment as organist and director of music at Worcester Cathedral, I’m deeply sorry to be losing him.  He is a gifted musician and has contributed significantly to the development of music here in Blackburn.  I’m absolutely sure that he’ll be a great blessing in his new role and bring freshness and creativity in an already well-established department.’

Sam Hudson said, ‘I am thrilled and honoured to have been chosen as Worcester Cathedral’s next organist and director of music. It is a privilege to have an opportunity to come to a cathedral, city and region so steeped in musical heritage, while also home to living music-making of the highest standards. I very much look forward to working with new colleagues in Worcester and to joining the cathedral community in due course.’