Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for April 2017


Like Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter have provided composers from every musical era with a wealth of material to set to music, either drawn from the Bible itself or with themes such as repentance, reflection, comfort and joy.   

Alan Bullard, the established British composer based in Essex, recently told me that he originally wrote his Easter work, Wondrous Cross, for the choir of Lion Walk Church in Colchester. This work has subsequently been performed by many choirs in the UK, USA, and Europe, and recorded by the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, director Sarah MacDonald. This month the Clacton Choral Society conducted by Gilli Dulieu will perform Alan’s Easter work  –  described as a meditation based on the traditional ‘Seven Last Words’ of Jesus Christ.  The music presents itself in a similar way to Stainer’s popular Crucifixion with congregational hymns interspersed between the solo and choral items, culminating in ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’.

Clacton Choral Society will also perform extracts from J S Bach’s St John Passion in English. Bach’s oratorio is often sung in English in the UK and Essex-based CD recording label, Chandos, have just released a new recording of this wonderful work performed by the Crouch End Festival Chorus.  This is an important CD release as the last recording in English was released over forty-five years ago and is no longer available!  Colchester Classics is delighted to offer the audience at this concert, recordings of both this new CD and also Alan Bullard’s Wondrous Cross. (Further details – free phone 0800 999 6994 or email  This concert takes place on Saturday 8 April in St James Church, Tower Road, Clacton at 7.30pm.

Tickets: £8 including programme on the door (pre-order via 01255 221511).

Last month Colin Baldy was one of the soloists in Colchester Choral Society’s performance of Bach’s St John Passion sung in German. This month he will be conducting a performance of this work with the Choir of St Mary’s Church, Maldon. The choir will perform this work in German but with five of the chorales (hymns) sung in English by both the choir and listeners. St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Maldon. Friday, 14 April at 7.30pm.

Free entry with retiring collection.
On 8 April Ipswich Bach Choir, with a team of excellent soloists including Colchester-based Gill Wilson, present a rare opportunity to hear Handel’s superb oratorio Samson. The most famous number is the soprano aria Let the Bright Seraphim (to be sung by Gill Wilson) but conductor Patrick McCarthy assures me that the rest of the work is packed with equally fine choruses and arias. The performance is at 7pm at St John the Baptist Church, Felixstowe.

Tickets: £12 (01394 271538).

Last but not least, the Essex Youth Orchestra under Robin Browning will perform a popular mix of Russian music including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto with soloist Daniel Lebhardt. This is a ticketed free event on Friday 7 April at 7.30pm and takes place at the Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden.

Please check seat availability by telephoning the box office on 0845 548 7650.

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

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Liz Leatherdale

Liz Leatherdale