Concert Review: St Matthew Passion (March 2024)

Birmingham Bach Choir are an amateur choir with professional standards, and tonight’s concert in Lichfield Cathedral was no exception. Bach’s setting of the Passion according to St Matthew was delivered with a sincerity and confidence befitting of any professional ensemble. The whole delivery was well-paced with slick transitions between movements. The chorus sections were delivered with almost faultless German pronunciation, and an exemplary attention to detail. The choir achieved huge variety, from the quietest pianissimo, to a passionately dramatic fortissimo.

The choir were accompanied by the Musical and Amicable Society orchestra who played with huge amounts of panache and enthusiasm, giving much body to the performance and support to both choir and soloists. During the first half, the Birmingham Bach Choir were joined by children from Tewkesbury Abbey School Cantorum and Lichfield Cathedral Choir. I gather they added a suitable brightness to the ensemble for those sitting nearer the front, but their sound didn’t quite resonate along the length of the nave. That said, the overall balance of sound was extremely well judged; not easy in a space such as Lichfield Cathedral.

Birmingham Bach in Lichfield Cathedral

Of the soloists, special mention must be made of Henry Waddington as Christus, whose delivery was both convincing and suitably dramatic. Thomas Hobbs as the Evangelist did an outstanding job of holding the performance together, and this really aided the overall flow. Adrian Lucas stepped in for Paul Spicer to conduct, and he showed full command of the musicians in front of him, his conducting always sensitive and well-paced.

The whole performance felt like a true group effort, each person committed to the overall ensemble, and the outcome was professional on every level.

Perhaps the best compliment came from the person walking behind me as we left: “that was a true religious experience”.

Five stars seems hardly enough.


Lichfield Cathedral, Saturday 10th March, 2024, 7pm

Birmingham Bach Choir
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Lichfield Cathedral Choir
Musical and Amicable Society
Adrian Lucas conductor

Thomas Hobbs Evangelist
Henry Waddington Christus
Sophie Bevan soprano
Lawrence Zazzo countertenor
Ed Lyon tenor
Stephan Loges bass

Future Birmingham Bach Choir concerts:

Saturday 29th June, 2024, 7pm, St Mary’s Warwick
Summer Concert: Bednall, Bernstein, Elgar & Spicer

Saturday 6th July, 7pm, St Alban’s Birmingham
Summer Concert: Bednall, Bernstein, Elgar & Spicer

I received complimentary tickets for this concert in return for a review. If you would like me to consider reviewing your concert, help you promote it, and feature it here on my blog, please get in touch.

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