Some of our reviews.

Recent comments from the Birmingham Post and Mail, unless otherwise stated:


Christopher Morley review of the DREAM OF GERONTIUS Birmingham Choral Union and Solihull Chandos Choir Edward Elgar Hall Saturday 18th June 2016


….. given by the combined forces of the Birmingham Choral Union and Solihull’s Chandos Choir under the deeply-felt direction of Colin Baines.

Gaynor Keeble was a warm authoritative Angel……..Terence Ayebare was impassioned…as the Priest…   The well-prepared choruses sang with enthusiasm and Commitment (“Praise to the Holiest” was well-sustained)……….. and Baines’ extremely measured tempo for the Angel’s Farewell exposed them to microscopic scrutiny.

One of the aspects which made Elgar’s dramatic cantata revolutionary is its Wagnerian use of the orchestra, and here the Birmingham Choral Union Orchestra, on I suspect very little rehearsal, achieved marvels in every department.

Reviewed by Maggie Cotton, March 3rd 2016, Birmingham Choral Union at St George’s church, Edgbaston, 27th February 2016 performing  Faure Requiem, Mendelssohn Hear My Prayer, Elgar Great Is The Lord and Give Unto the Lord.


“It seemed only natural to be listening to two of Elgar’s Psalm settings in this magnificent, welcoming church. Give Unto The Lord indeed gave many contrasts from roaring thunder to eventual peace.
Tender choir accompanied final year student Alice Brown on Mendelssohn’s enchanting Hear My Prayer. Memories of haunting boy sopranos enhanced this interpretation, although much more care should be taken with consonants, particularly in such a resonant acoustic.
Colin Baines, conductor of the choir for the last 35 years, has great rapport with his singers, gently drawing forth fine phrasing, purity and innocence with countless contrasting focuses and intricate key changes. It was obvious that much detailed work had been done to attain such a caring performance…”

    Mendelssohn Hear My Prayer, Howells Te Deum and Elgar Te Deum and Benedictus in St George’s Church, Edgbaston.

    28th June 2014
    Norman Stinchcombe reviews Birmingham Choral Union at St George’s Church in Edgbaston Quite how a song from Noel Coward’s operetta Bitter Sweet came to feature in a concert entitled “English Cathedral Music” I can only guess – but it contributed to an interestingly varied programme for a summer evening. It was one of four songs performed by ...

    Mozart Requiem in Elgar Concert Hall

    29th March 2014
    Mozart Requiem : Mendelssohn Psalm 42 Saturday, March 29, 2014. Norman Stinchcombe reviews Birmingham Choral Union at Elgar Concert Hall Is it the pathos of being Mozart’s last work, still uncompleted as he lay on his deathbed, which ensures the enduring popularity of his Requiem? It contributes, but it’s the ...

    Mendelssohn Elijah in Birmingham Adrian Boult Hall.

    16th March 2012
    Mendelssohn’s Elijah may sound hackneyed to modern ears, but it readily appealed to Victorian audiences. And Birmingham choirs have always had a soft spot for the work, as it was their antecedents who gave the premiere in 1846. A sense of this affection permeated much of Saturday’s performance by Birmingham Choral Union, which showed a commitment ...

    Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem and McCartney Ecce Cor Meum in Birmingham Town Hall.

    25th March 2011
    If ever there was a concert of two halves this was it. The evening began with Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, a work of considerable spiritual and emotional intensity, which Colin Baines and the Birmingham Choral Union conveyed with splendid commitment and feeling for mood. Despite not having enough voices to match the score’s symphonic power there ...

    Stanford Requiem in Adrian Boult Hall.

    2nd April 2010
    Stanford’s Requiem, heartfelt and poignant, was premiered at the Birmingham Triennial Festival in 1897, but has rarely been heard since. So it was good that Birmingham Choral Union had the courage to give it a welcome airing last Saturday, in an unfailingly enthusiastic performance, commendable for its musicianship and commitment. There was the occasional imbalance, probably due ...

    Handel Messiah in Birmingham Town Hall.

    13th April 2009
    Messiah told in familiar language but with an exhilarating finale. On this Good Friday, we commemorated the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death with his mighty oratorio Messiah, a fine way with which to begin Easter. The Birmingham Choral Union presented a performance closer to Handel’s original intentions, with chamber orchestra including chamber organ and harpsichord as suitable ...

    Elgar Spirit of England and Beresford King-Smith Psalm-Symphony in Adrian Boult Hall.

    9th April 2007
    Elgar pulls emotional strings. “Music which had practically to be torn out of its composer, Elgar’s The Spirit of England is a masterpiece which remains too little known. Almost as autobiographical as the slightly earlier Music Makers, these First World War settings of three poems by Laurence Binyon breathe an immense sadness, clinging onto visionary hope. The A ...

    Haydn Nelson Mass and Handel Dettingen Te Deum in Cathedral.

    25th October 2005
    Full Nelson has cathedral in thrall. “Many of Haydn’s late symphonies and masses tremble with an awareness of Napoleon’s ambitious military campaigning, and his Mass in Time of Anguish is a prime example of this concern, with its foreboding fanfares and hammer-rhythms. Yet sunny hope mingles with grim fear, giving the piece such unique personality. Composed in 1798, ...

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