Keeping you updated with the latest news


13 June 2024
2023/24 season finishes at Christ Church


28 June 2023
A Rousing end to the 2022/23 Season with Viva Italia!
9 June 2023
Cathedral Visits - Summer 2023
12 May 2023
Simon Toyne appointed as our new Musical Director
20 March 2023
Dame Ethel Smyth Mass in D - A resounding success!
13 February 2023
The Ethel Smyth full score has arrived











Berlioz Requiem : a NBC first

24 June 2019

Last Saturday the Northampton Bach Choir mounted their first performance of Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts, commonly known as the Requiem. NBC have taken part in a performance before, a number of years ago, but this was the first time they have done it “solo” (though, as you will read, they were hardly alone!).

Choir, Orchestra, Timpanists, Soloist, Conductor, and Brass Band - 180 performers!

This was surely the grandest performance mounted in St Matthew’s Church for many years - the chorus and large orchestra were supported by no fewer than seven timpanists playing fourteen kettledrums, and the complete forces of Rushden Town Band, divided into the four corners of the building. And that’s before you’ve even thought about the colossal solo voice of Ben Thapa!
The Choir and Orchestra in Rehearsal

This performance required a huge commitment from our Musical Director and committee, not least our Concerts Manager, in booking all the players, organising the rehearsals, creating custom vocal scores for the choir to fully involve the altos (who Berlioz didn’t consider all that much!), teaching the French pronunciation of Latin, reorchestrating the orchestral parts to accommodate a slightly reduced woodwind session, and totally reorchestrating the brass parts to suit the specific constraints of the British Brass Band.

As you can see from the photos, we had a huge number of performers - just over 180 in all - and the very large audience got all the decibels from all directions - it was staggering! The feedback we have received already has been full of praise, though perhaps next-time we ought to provide audience members near each corner of the building with ear defenders for the force of the brass!

Lee’s T-Shirt - I Love Berlioz
Lee conducting the bands in all four corners of the building

This concert was the first in our <B> series, which continues next term with Brahms’s Requiem, then onto our 80th anniversary performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (another NBC first), then to Bach’s St John Passion, and finishing next summer with Bruckner’s Mass in E minor and Motets.

The "preview": I had no expectations, but one Choir member said, "Be ready for lots of kettledrums".

The reality: A magnificent and truly surprising evening - Lee masterfully in control, the hard-working Choir never better, the orchestra (including those kettledrums) superb, the soloist memorable and sound... everywhere! (And the programme notes were a delight as well!)

I sat next to a "I'm not really a Berlioz fan", but she surely was by evening's end. I'm already looking forward to the next B (for Brahms) on 23rd November.

Gary Shaeffer, Friend