Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for November

Our classical music columnist Liz Leatherdale, founder and owner of Colchester Classics, brings you her pick of November’s classical music event in and around Colchester

Handel’s Messiah

Messiah is one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music and is a set work for the current GCSE Music course. It includes much well-known music such as the Hallelujah Chorus, when the audience traditionally stands. The story goes that when King George II first heard this chorus, he was so inspired that he stood up. When everyone saw him standing, they stood too and so the tradition began!

This wonderful work is often performed and can be heard in Witham and Chelmsford over the coming weeks.

Patrick McCarthy celebrates 20 seasons as conductor of the Witham Choral Society with a full scale performance of Messiah including some of Handel’s alternative solos. Patrick will also be the bass soloist with Gill Wilson (soprano) and Elaine Henson (mezzo) and the Colchester Bach Orchestra. November 7, 7.30pm, Witham Public Hall, Collingwood Road, Witham.

Tickets from £10 (0345 017 8717 or 01621 854621)

Harlow Chorus

This year Harlow Chorus, a highly successful amateur choir of some 100 members, celebrates 40 years of choral singing. Its opening anniversary season will be a Remembrance concert including Benjamin Britten’s Agnus Dei from his War Requiem, Bob Chilcott’s Requiem and a gift commission from Paul Ayres of Bless this house, made famous by Perry Como in the 40’s. Saturday, 7 November at 7pm. St John’s Church, Epping. Next month the choir also performs Handel’s Messiah. Saturday 12 December, 7pm, Chelmsford Cathedral.

Tickets from £15 (01277 362440)

Remembrance and Thanksgiving Concert

On Sunday 8 and Wednesday 11 November our nation will pause for thought at 11am to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.

A Remembrance and Thanksgiving Concert will take place on November 7 with the main choral work being Duruflé’s Requiem. The mood of this work, as befits a Mass for the Dead, is largely reflective and solemn with moments of great beauty. Taking a plainsong chant as a starting point Durufle used Fauré’s Requiem as a model by including important solo parts for organ, mezzo-soprano and baritone. The up and coming mezzo on this occasion will be Joanna Arnold (I recall her being the soloist in the same work with the Colchester Bach Choir in her parents’ Mayoral year).  This time Joanna will be performing with the Lexden Choral Society accompanied by the Kingfisher Sinfonietta conducted by John Chillingworth. Other works in this concert include music by Parry and Holst. St Botolph’s Church, Colchester Saturday 7 November 2015, 7.30pm.

Tickets £12

Moot Hall Organ Recital

‘We will remember them’ is the title of the next Colchester Moot Hall organ recital by Honorary Borough organist, Ian Ray. Music associated with the annual observance of Remembrance Day will be performed including the stirring Dam Buster’s March by Eric Coates and Elgar’s Nimrod from his Enigma Variations. Tuesday November 10, at 1pm, Colchester Moot Hall.

Admission is free with retiring collection in aid of The Mayor’s Charities

Halstead & District Choral Society

In which pieces of music can Handel’s most famous Hallelujah Chorus be heard? Yes, in the most well-known and frequently performed oratorio, Messiah, but he also used it in another choral work – the Foundling Hospital Anthem. Handel conducted the first performance at a benefit concert in aid of the children’s Foundling Hospital (now known as the Great Ormond Street Hospital.)

Zadok the Priest, by far the most popular of the Handel’s four Coronation Anthems, was also used in another oratorio, Esther, and it has been performed at every British Coronation since its first performance for King George II. Both the Foundling Hospital Anthem and Zadok the Priest will be sung by the Halstead & District Choral Society on Saturday November 14 at 7.30pm in St Andrew’s Church, Halstead. Tickets: £10 in advance (01787 473002) or £12 on the door

Patrick McCarthy will conduct another Handel oratorio, Judas Maccabaeus, later in the month.  Soloists Gill Wilson and Elaine Henson will perform with the Ipswich Bach Choir and Ipswich Chamber Orchestra at 7.00pm on November 21, 2015 at Ipswich School.

Tickets: £5 – £12

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

Start your love affair with Classical Music at and take a minute to watch their company video:

Liz Leatherdale






Liz Leatherdale