Bristol Chamber Choir

under the auspices of Bristol  Madrigal Society


Jessie May concert


Past Concerts



Our concert of songs and madrigals forms part of the 2011 All Saints Flower Festival.

Madrigals by one of our founding members - Robert Lucas Pearsall (1795-1896) - and by Morley and Bennet will join excerpts from our ‘Triumphs of Oriana’ concert to provide ‘Music for a Summer Evening’.

Proceeds will go to the church heating fund.

The delightful illustration on the left is from a painting created for the event by one of our singers, Elizabeth Holford.


First performance of tragic composer’s ‘Passion’

Bristol’s oldest choir is delighted to be giving the first performance in the city of an astonishing work. This ‘Choral-Passion’ was composed in 1932 by a young German who would later die rather than fight for Hitler.

Born in 1908, Hugo Distler was a talented composer, organist and teacher whose musical style was profoundly influenced by Heinrich Schütz, JS Bach and Lutheran chorales. He produced his ‘Choral-Passion’ only a year after hearing Heinrich Schütz’ St Matthew Passion.  To illustrate Distler’s – and this work’s – musical heritage, the choir will also be singing the closing chorus from Schütz’ Passion, the chorale ‘Jesu, deine Passion’ by Gesius (1562-1613) and Bach’s interpretation of this same chorale. The concert concludes with Schütz’ beautiful motet, ‘Selig sind die Toten’.

A very religious man, Distler was deeply affected by Hitler’s persecution of Protestants in the mid-1930s. Thanks to an unknown protector, he avoided the military call-up in 1940 and ’41, but when his papers arrived in 1942, he lost hope. Depressed by the brutality of war, the denigration of his work by the Third Reich and the loss of so many friends and colleagues on the battlefields, Distler committed suicide. He was just 34.

Bristol Chamber Choir, created as the Bristol Madrigal Society, has been singing in the city since 1837, so will celebrate its 175th anniversary next year.  The choir specialises in ‘a capella’ singing and in performing longer small-scale works that few other groups would attempt; over the last 18 months it has for example sung Pearsall’s ‘Requiem’, the ‘St John Passion’ by Schütz and Randall Thompson’s ‘The Peaceable Kingdom’.  Its reputation is growing: as one newcomer to the choir said of a recent concert, ‘It was superb – what a performance from the choir, and how enjoyable to hear works which were new to us!’