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The First World War began 100 years ago this August. To commemorate this event Chester Festival Chorus, conductor James Burton and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra present works by two English composers on whom the war had a lasting effect.  For details click here

This is the home of the Chester Festival Chorus.  Every year from May onwards we work hard to prepare for our annual appearance in the Chester Music Festival in the glorious setting of Chester Cathedral.  Over the years we’ve had a chance to sing with many world renowned orchestras, conductors and soloists. Look through the site for information about the choir, our past and future concerts, as well as information on how you can join us!

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2014 sees the chorus performing for the third time with James Burton, former choral director of the Hallé Choir, following previous performances of Elgar’s Music Makers and Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and as soloists we welcome for the first time soprano Judith Howarth and baritone William Dazeley.  The two main works we will be performing are closely linked with the First World War, the 100th anniversary of the start of which falls in August.  Edward Elgar’s Spirit of England was written during the conflict and sets poems by Lawrence Binyon, including ‘For The Fallen’, familiar from many Remembrance Day services.  Far from being the rallying cry of a work one might have expected it is a reflection on the war and its effects on the home front containing moments of extreme tenderness.  Ralph Vaughan Williams served as a stretcher bearer on the Western Front and was deeply affected by what he saw.  As the world seemed set on further conflict in the 1930s, he used those experiences to drive his cantata Dona Nobis Pacem, an impassioned plea for peace and reconciliation using some of the American Civil War poetry of Walt Whitman.  

We begin the programme with Benjamin Britten’s unusual arrangement of the National Anthem written for the Leeds Festival Chorus in 1961, and Edward Elgar’s miniature gem Sospiri, first performed in the Queen’s Hall on August 15th, 1914, just 11 days after the outbreak of the Great War.

© Chris Green 2014