The Choir in Leipzig

Yorkshire Bach Choir

Registered Charity no 700412

Yorkshire Bach Choir has been regarded for over 30 years as one of the UK’s leading chamber choirs, specialising in performing renaissance, baroque and classical music. The mainstay of the choir’s performance is its annual series of six concerts held in the 16th century church of St Michael le Belfrey, York. In addition the choir regularly performs elsewhere in the UK and abroad participating in a variety of festivals, and has featured on both radio and television. The choir has made recordings of works ranging in period from the Spanish Renaissance of Victoria right through to the classical period, represented by Mozart’s Requiem. These and its other recordings are an enduring benchmark of its achievement.

The choir was formed in 1979 by its conductor Peter Seymour and quickly gained a national reputation for the very high quality of its work. It is the only choir in the North that regularly performs newly edited and rediscovered masterpieces of earlier centuries, and its contribution to the musical life of York has been widely recognised and praised by both critics and a loyal and appreciative audience from Yorkshire, and throughout the UK and overseas. The choir performs both unaccompanied and regularly with leading players of period instruments who form the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. The choir also works with internationally renowned singers, many of whom appear regularly in its York concert seasons.

Although much of Yorkshire Bach Choir’s work focuses on music of the 17th and 18th centuries, its repertoire extends backwards to 16th century polyphony and forwards to newly commissioned works such as those by Christopher Fox and John Paynter. Much of the repertoire is specially edited for the choir, and it has given the first modern performances of many valuable early choral works.

Yorkshire Bach Choir is committed to developing a performing style that seeks to recreate that in use at the time of composition but which is relevant to and appropriate for a modern audience. This includes experiments in authentic pronunciation, including church music sung in Latin with the pronunciation appropriate to the place where it was written. Recent concerts have seen the choir use, for example, Spanish, Mexican, German and Tudor English pronunciation of the Latin text. Among the music that has been specially edited for Yorkshire Bach Choir is Duncan Druce’s completion of Mozart’s Requiem, which was commissioned by the choir for performance at the 1984 York Festival and was subsequently recorded by the choir for WDR and released on commercial CD.

The choir sings in the Michaeliskirche in Leipzig"

Yorkshire Bach Choir has participated in many festivals – York Early Music Festival, Ryedale, Swaledale, Northern Aldborough, Chichester, and Hexham. It has participated in festivals and opera in several European countries including Quimper on the French coast of Brittany, Lucca in Italy, the Festival Mitte Europa in Germany and the Czech Republic. The choir’s most recent European appearance was in June 2007 in Leipzig Bach Festival. Accompanied by Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, they sang Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in the Michaeliskirche. The programme also included Blow’s Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell and Daniel Purcell’s Ode on the birthday of Princess Anne The soloists included Emma Kirkby, Stephen Varcoe, Yvonne Seymour, Helen Neeves, Robin Blaze, Jason Darnell, Bethany Seymour, Judith Cunnold and Wendy Goodson. This concert has been broadcast on German, Dutch and Canadian Radio. On the Sunday morning, the choir sang at JS Bach’s church, the Thomaskirche, performing Bach’s motet Singet dem Herrn and Byrd’s Ne irascaris, Domine in a Lutheran service.


The choir has also recorded for West German Radio, BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, French Radio and Television, and Yorkshire Television. BBC broadcasts have included a programme of music by Biber including his Missa Alleluia, scored for 8-part choir, 8 soloists, 6 trumpets, timpani, 2 cornetts, 3 trombones, strings and continuo, Bach’s cantatas for the Feast of St Michael and Haydn’s Theresienmesse and featured on both Brian Kay’s Sunday morning live show and In Tune with Sean Rafferty,. In March 2007 the BBC broadcast Yorkshire Bach Choir’s recording of Victoria’s setting of Psalm 116 on Radio 3’s ‘The Choir’, presented by Aled Jones.

The Choir in Leipzig
(top) poses in front of Bach's statue outside the Thomaskirche;
(lower) rehearses in the Michaeliskirche.
Photos by Andrew Jackson