Belfast Philharmonic Choir:
Belfast Philharmonic Choir is the only symphonic chorus in Northern Ireland and performs most regularly with the Ulster Orchestra, the province's only professional symphony orchestra. After 5 years as accompanist I was delighted to be appointed Chorus Master in 2011.
Since its formation in 1874, where it sang Mendelssohn's Elijah in Northern Ireland for the first time, the Choir has sung much of the standard repertoire, ranging from Bach and Handel- including annual performances of Messiah- through masses by Haydn and Beethoven to 20th century 'fireworks' such as Carmina Burana, Belshazzar's Feast and Britten's monumental War Requiem. Since my appointment additional and more contemporary works have appeared in the Choir's schedule.
"...a sense of excitement each time the choir stood..."
In April 2012, 100 years to the hour since it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, I directed the Choir with Downshire Brass and Cappella Caeciliana in the highly moving and poignant premiere of Philip Hammond's Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic to a capacity audience in St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. Jump forward a few years and 2015 marked the 140th birthday of the Society which was celebrated both with a thrilling, and uncommon, choir-and-organ concert in Belfast's fabulous Ulster Hall and the premiere of a new
work, The Seven Heavens, based on the life of C.S. Lewis and composed by Grammy- nominated composer James Whitbourn.
In recent years the Choir has delighted the Belfast audiences with further new music including Christopher Marshall's highly lyrical Earthsong and the European premiere of Stuart Scott's highly atmospheric Requiem Brevis, scored for 8 choirs spaced around the building (see picture). The Choir also took their sound to Poland & Ukraine in August 2017, performing Mozart & Poulenc to capacity audiences in three venues including the vast cathedral of Christ the King in Katowice.
The Choir's core repertoire is, of course, the 'classic' choral works and I was thrilled to conduct the Choir with the Ulster Orchestra in Mendelssohn's Elijah to warm critical acclaim; other recent performances have included Mozart's Requiem and, of course Messiah: ".. rhythmic attack, precision of diction and varying dynamics showing exactly what a large choir can bring to Handel's choruses."
A highlight of the 'Phil' season is the annual 'Come & Sing' which attracts singers- and potential new members- from all over Ireland and the wider United Kingdom. Past events have featured Mozart Requiem, Carmina Burana and a very popular 'Choral Favourites' programme.
If you would interested in joining Belfast Philharmonic Choir then please click here.