Bournville Young Singers 30th Anniversary Gala ConcertThe weekend of 23/24 April 2016 was a busy, exciting and memorable one for the choir, as they welcomed 55 young people from the Frankfurt Cathedral Youth Choir, who were joining them for a Gala Concert on Sunday afternoon at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre.

Frankfurt & Birmingham: Celebrating 50 years in partnershipThe visit by the Frankfurt choir marks 50 years of twinning between Frankfurt and Birmingham and celebrates Bournville Young Singers' 30th anniversary.

After greeting the German choir, everyone rehearsed items for the concert before walking to Bournville station to catch a train to central Birmingham. Quite an undertaking, but no-one was lost on the way! The Lord Mayor of Birmingham had invited the young people to a reception at the Council House. Each choir entertained the Lord Mayor with a song, which was well received, before returning to the Friends Meeting House to introduce the Frankfurt choir to their hosts for the weekend. A long day for all concerned.

On Sunday morning, there was free time for everyone with their host families. Some people visited the local nature centre, others had a tour of the Cadbury factory, before all meeting up at the Ruddock Hall at 1.00 pm to start rehearsals. Everyone worked very hard and after a short break, all were assembled on stage for the start of the concert.

The Deputy Lord Mayor, Hon. Alderman Len Gregory and his wife attended on behalf of the Lord Mayor, and Alexander L’Estrange and Liz Johnson, who are both patrons of BYS, were present to hear some of their work performed.

There was a wide variety of music, accompanied by the Bournville String Orchestra, led by Lucy Akehurst, and a jazz band, with professional instrumentalists Chris Collis, Sam Craig, Mitch Perrins, Jadie Carey and Stephen Plummer.

Zimbe! Come Sing the Songs of Africa!
Zimbe! Come Sing the Songs of Africa!

Bournville String Orchestra opened the concert, performing 'Divertimento in F' by Mozart. Bournville Young Singers were then joined by Bournville Graduates Choir to perform Queen of the Night from Liz Johnson's 'Moon Incantations'. BYS and Bournville Graduates along with guest singers and musicians then performed extracts from Rose & Conlon's 'Ocean World', with Rebecca Schneider performing solo parts. Bournville Graduates then presented a moving a cappella rendition of 'As the Rain Hides the Stars' by Ian Assersohn before presenting their version of Matthew Harris' 'It was a Lover and his Lass' from 'As You Like It' to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Before the interval, Bournville Young Singers, Frankfurt Cathedral Youth Choir, Bournville Graduates, guest singers and Bournville String Orchestra then performed pieces from Vivaldi's 'Gloria'. Madeleine Woodey, Jenni Sharp & Rebecca Schneider performed solo parts.

Frankfurt Cathedral Youth Choir
Frankfurt Cathedral Youth Choir

After the interval, Bournville Young Singers, Bournville Graduates and guests joined the band for a stirring performance of extracts from 'Zimbe! Come Sing the Songs of Africa!' by Alexander L'Estrange. The audience thoroughly enjoyed this and all joined in with enthusiastic clapping. Frankfurt Cathedral Youth Choir then presented three lovely pieces – 'Deutsches Magnificat' by Thomas Gabriel, 'Wie Lieblich Sind Deine Wohnungen' by Georg Philipp Telemann and 'Magnificat' by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The finale was 'Zadok Rules – Hallelujah!' by Alexander L’Estrange, written in 2013 to celebrate the 60 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and first performed in Hanover, Germany.

At the end of the concert, Agnieszka Scott from the Bournville Young Singers committee took to the stage to present flowers to Anne Ellis, Musical Director of the choir since its inception and driving force behind the 30 year celebrations. Agnieszka also thanked her for all her hard work and innovative projects over the years. Thanks and gifts were also presented to Andreas Boltz and Bjanka Ehry from Frankfurt Cathedral Youth Choir, Rebecca Schneider, Madeleine Woodey and Jenni Sharp, with the final presentation of the evening going to Stephen Ellis, who was an excellent compère.

All in all, a wonderful weekend, with plenty of good memories for all concerned to take away with them. And many new friendships made, many of which will be renewed when BYS makes a return trip to Frankfurt in May.