Concerts with Gloucester Choral Society

We are delighted to have been invited by Gloucester Choral Society (GCS) to join them in the performance of two concerts in May 2018 as part of the Parry and his Pupils Festival, to mark the centenary of Parry’s death in 1918.

These concerts will be on 5 May 2018 in Gloucester Cathedral and on 10 May 2018 at the Royal Festival Hall, both with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Adrian Partington. Parry was born and raised in Gloucester and was, at the time of his death, President of Gloucester Choral Society.

The concerts feature Parry’s I was glad, originally written for the coronation of King Edward VII, Ode on the Nativity and Jerusalem, but also celebrate Parry’s legacy through the works of two other great British composers: the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Parry’s former pupil, Vaughan Williams and (only in the Royal Festival Hall concert) Elgar’s Cello Concerto, who learnt much of his craft from studying articles Parry wrote for Grove’s Dictionary of Music. The Gloucester concert also includes another work by one of Parry’s former pupils – Holst’s Hymn of Jesus.

But, you might ask, what connection has OBC with GCS or Parry, apart from the fact that many of us have friends in both choirs? Well, GCS’s conductor, Adrian Partington, who is Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral, has not only been conductor of GCS for almost 10 years, but he has had a long association with OBC for even longer. Over 25 years, he has been both accompanist at rehearsals, played the piano or organ at concerts and events, and was also our Associate Conductor before taking the post at Gloucester Cathedral.

Oxford Bach Choir certainly had a number of connections with Parry during his lifetime. In 1948, we commemorated the centenary of Parry’s birth as follows:

  • In our March 1948 concert , we performed Job, Blest Pair of Sirens and Jerusalem
  • In May 1948 we gave the world premiere of Vaughan Williams’ Prayer to the Father of Heaven, written especially in Parry’s memory for the occasion. In addition, the “Cantata Section” of the choir performed some of Parry’s shorter choral works, at a concert in Exeter College Chapel.
  • We have also sung Blest Pair of Sirens and the Songs of Farewell a number of times since the 1940s.

With all these connections, we are all looking forward immensely to this collaboration, and we hope that this will be the start of many future joint projects.