The Birmingham Bach Choir (around 75 singers) performs regularly in Symphony Hall and other key venues in the Midlands, as well as major Arts festivals. Its core repertoire is music by J.S. Bach and the baroque period in general. In addition the Choir has developed a repertoire of 20th century music and regularly commissions new works. It has given premieres of music by John Joubert, Aaron Jay Kernis, Adrian Partington and Paul Spicer. Future performances include J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) & St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and Paul Spicer's Easter Oratorio. Overseas tours have seen performances in Leipzig, Prague and Dresden, and in 2006 it will be returning to Dresden to perform in the newly-restored Frauenkirche.
The origins of the Birmingham Bach choir lie in a "Birmingham Bach Society" formed in 1919, but the choir was reformed and enlarged in 1947 by Dr. Willis Grant, later Professor of Music at Bristol University. Other conductors have included Roy Massey in the mid 1960's and Richard Butt from 1966-1992. During Richard Butt's 26 years, the work of the Birmingham Bach Society (as it was then known), expanded to promote concerts and recitals by well known orchestras, ensembles and soloists as part of the Society's committment to the works of J.S. Bach. These promotions included the English Chamber Orchestra with Raymond Leppard, the Deutsche Bachsolisten, the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, the King’s Singers, Yehudi Menuhin, George Malcolm, Paul Tortelier, Gillian Weir, Emma Kirkby, Peter Pears, John Shirley-Quirk and Patricia Rozario. Strong links were made in 1989 with the Thomaskirche Leipzig where J.S. Bach was Kantor for 27 years.
In 1989 the Birmingham Bach Society choir gave a performance of J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) in the Thomaskirche. Since then the association has continued, most recently with a visit from the Leipzeiger Vocal Ensemble in the summer of 1997.
Besides its current regular series of Choral Concerts in Birmingham, the Choir has a busy schedule of events and further afield. Most recently, the Choir has performed at Festivals in Lichfield, Cheltenham, Leipzig and Prague. The Choir also toured Dresden in 2001 and has been invited to return in 2006.
The Choir has gained an enviable reputation for its performances for the music of J.S. Bach and his contemporaries. Since 1992, under the baton of Paul Spicer, the repetoire of the Choir has extended to include his specialism of 20th Century British music. The Choir regularly undertakes commissions and it has recently given first performances of works by John Joubert, Aaron Jay Kernis and Paul Spicer. The Choir had a special double season for the Millenium, which culminated in a performance of J.S. Bach's stunning B Minor Mass (BWV 232) in Birmingham's Symphony Hall in February 2000 joined by their long-standing associate and patron, Emma Kirkby. This performance was repeated in February 2002.
The Choir has also toured abroad regularly and make much of their close links with St. Thomas', Leipzig, J.S. Bach's church. Looking to the future, in 2006 the Choir will be amongst the first to perform in the rebuilt Frauenkirche in Dresden following a hugely succesful tour to the city in 2001.