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BCF Concert 23rd November 2013

The Brentwood Choirs Festival performed the moving and dramatic Verdi Requiem on Saturday 23rd November 2013 to a full house. The concert was a great success and the audience was extemely enthusiastic . To remind you of this concert, or tell you about it for the first time, we provide an image of the poster we published, a short piece on the background to Verdi's great work, and profiles of the conductor and solo performers. We also have some pictures taken during rehearsal and one during the performance. You can use the following links to find all this information.

Background to Verdi Requiem Profile of Verdi David Taylor Profiles of Soloists Picture Gallery Sponsors

The same set of information is available as a download for e-readers, particularly Google Readium, on our 'Downloads' page.

Poster Publicising Event

BCF poster November  2013


Messa di Requiem Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Notes by Geoffrey Dunn (Courtesy of Making Music)

The first suggestion of Verdi’s involvement in a Requiem Mass was shortly after the death of Rossini, in November 1868. Verdi revered him as the greatest Italian composer of the previous generation. As Rossini was also greatly respected by his fellow Italian composers, Verdi suggested a Requiem be composed as a joint project between them. He stipulated that no one was to make money out of it and offered the Libera Me as his contribution. In the event the Requiem did not progress beyond the committee stage, the stumbling-block being the nonprofit motive.

In February 1871, Alberto Mazzucato, the director of Milan Conservatoire who was also a member of the Rossini Memorial Committee, wrote to Verdi, praising his Libera Me and urging him to complete the Mass. Verdi’s modest reply was to the effect that there were plenty of Requiem Masses already written and it would be useless to add to their number.

The occasion that would make such an addition “useful” occurred in May 1873. It was the death of the famous writer and poet Alessandro Manzoni. This affected Verdi profoundly, for not only had they been friends but Verdi greatly admired Manzoni’s work and was disgusted by the lack of respect displayed by the press reports on his death. So, deciding that he would try to write something himself more worthy of this great man, Verdi suggested to the Mayor and Council of Milan that he would compose and pay for the publication of a Requiem for performance in Manzoni’s native city on the anniversary of his death.

They gratefully accepted his offer and the first performance was given on 22 May 1874 at the Church of San Marco, Milan. It made a deep impression on the audience and so many people were disappointed to have missed it that three further performances were given immediately at La Scala. The Requiem was taken on tour with Verdi conducting and was performed in Paris, Vienna and London, the latter at the Royal Albert Hall with John Stainer at the organ and a choir of 1200, just a year after the first performance in Milan.

There have been critics who have referred to Verdi’s Requiem as his finest opera, but the serious listener must surely recognise the sincerity of the music, albeit extremely dramatic in parts. Perhaps the most significant comment would be to quote the words of another great composer, Brahms: “Verdi’s Requiem is a work of genius”.

David Taylor, Conductor

 picture of David M. Taylor

David M Taylor was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham and was educated at Durham Cathedral Chorister School where he became Head Chorister before attending Repton School in Derbyshire, receiving the Sir Alfred McAlpine award and a music scholarship.

From Repton, David went on to study singing, viola and conducting. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music having studied under Raimund Herincx, Kenneth Bowen and Henry Cummings. While at the Royal Academy of Music, David was a member of the Opera School, taking part in many productions.

David has sung as bass soloist with many choral societies throughout the country and abroad, performing works such as the Requiems of Fauré, Mozart and Verdi as well as Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. He has conducted various choral societies and choirs for many years undertaking the major oratorio repertoire, embracing a wide range of traditional and contemporary works. He became Brentwood Cathedral Choir’s first bass Lay Clerk and continues to sing with the Cathedral Choir.

David began teaching locally at The Campion School in Hornchurch becoming Head of Junior School before moving to the Deputy Headship at Chelmsford County High School for Girls. He has been Second Master at Brentwood School for a number of years where his wife also teaches and where their two daughters were educated. David plays a leading rôle in the national HMC Conference for Academic Deputies which involves many of the leading independent schools.

David has been awarded Honorary Fellowships from the Royal Society of Arts and the Academy of St. Cecilia for his services to music and education.

Profiles of Soloists

 picture of Julia Wilson-James

Julia Wilson-James (soprano) was born in Ilford and began singing seriously when, at the age of eleven, she entered Redbridge Music School, studying under the late Edna Graham until she gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music. At the Academy, Julia studied with Patricia Clark and Clara Taylor, and won the Benjamin Britten Prize and a St Marylebone scholarship. She now studies with Patrizia Kwella.

Julia has performed for many celebrated conductors for both concerts and recordings, including the late Richard Hickox, as well as regularly with the BBC Singers, Nicholas Kraemer, Sir Simon Rattle, the King’s Consort, Richard Cooke, Roger Norrington, John Rutter’s Cambridge Singers and the Monteverdi Choir. Julia’s international solo performances have included Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, which she sang on tour with the Israel Chamber Orchestra. She later performed the Bach Mass in B Minor with the same orchestra in Israel, a performance that was much acclaimed. In Norway, she sang Fauré’s Requiem with the Norwegian Soloists Choir and has worked for several seasons with the London Opera Chorus in Lyon and Vienna.

In the UK Julia is a frequent soloist for choral societies, especially in the South East of England. She has appeared at St Martin in the Fields, Norwich Cathedral, The Purcell Room, Thaxted Church and Brentwood Cathedral. Julia has recently completed a recording of church choral and solo music with Andrew Wright, Master of Music at Brentwood Cathedral, and these are available on CD.

In addition to her professional singing engagements, Julia is currently Director of Vocal Studies at Brentwood School and Head of Vocal Tuition for the boy choristers at Brentwood Cathedral. She is also a Lay Clerk in Brentwood Cathedral Choir. In spring 2007, following a long-held desire by Julia to create a ladies choir, ‘Bravissima’ was formed.

 picture of Cloe Treharne

Chloë Treharne (mezzo-soprano) holds a first class honours degree from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she is now continuing her studies on the Masters programme under the tuition of Susan Waters.

Winner of the 2013 English Song Award, Chloë is particularly interested in song repertoire and spent the summer in Vienna at the Schubert-Institut learning about the performance of German Lieder in masterclasses with the world’s best Lied singers: Ann Murray, Elly Ameling, Roger Vignoles, and Robert Holl to name but a few.

At the Guildhall this term, Chloë was invited to sing as part of Graham Johnson’s Poulenc Festival. Recent operatic highlights include performing with the Chorus of Opera North in Aldeburgh Festival’s Grimes on the Beach in celebration of Britten’s centenary year, which was later turned into a full-length feature film, and performing the roles of Drorabella (Mozart Cosi fan Tutte) and Charlotte (Massenet Werther) in Guildhall scenes.

Chloë is grateful to the Worshipful Company of Plumbers for their support of her studies.

 picture of Daniel Joy Tenor

Daniel Joy (tenor) studied music at Durham University where he gained a first class music degree and was awarded the Eve Myra Kisch Price Prize for outstanding academic achievement and was a choral scholar at Durham Cathedral. He then studied on the postgraduate vocal course at the Royal College of Music with Ryland Davies and Timothy Evans-Jones and recently graduated with distinction from the opera course at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Roles at GSMD included the title role in Albert Herring, Giovanni in Donizetti’s L’Aseddio di Calais and Ricardo in Massenet’s Cherubin. He made his professional stage debut as Kozak in Statkowski’s Maria for Wexford Festival Opera, also broadcast on BBC, Schweizer Radio DRS and RTE Radio Ireland.

He has since performed numerous operatic roles at venues in this country, Ireland and Canada. As a member of Glyndebourne Festival Chorus he gave recitals of songs by Tchaikovsky and of madrigals by Monteverdi, and a workshop performance of the role of Orpheus in Julian Phillips’ Followers as part of the Jerwood Young Artists Development Scheme.

His recent concert performances include Finzi’s Dies Natalis (Britten Sinfonia), Handel’s Messiah (Cadogan Hall), the Evangelist in Bach’s St John Passion (St Martin-in-the-Fields), Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 (The English Cornet and Sackbutt Ensemble), Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai (European Union Chamber Orchestra), and other works by Finzi, Handel, Bach, Janacek, Puccini and Rossini.

 picture of Stephen Kennedy

Stephen Kennedy (bass) Ex head-chorister of Westminster Cathedral Choir, Stephen attended the RNCM then RSAMD studying viola and was principal viola with the Britten-Pears Orchestra. On leaving college, he took singing lessons with James Morgan and joined the D’Oyly Carte Opera chorus, understudying roles in Iolanthe, Yeomen of the Guard and The Mikado. He went on to combine singing and playing with the Gogmagogs, a theatrical string septet, touring Finland, Denmark, Greece, South Korea and Singapore.

He now plays and sings with comedy string quartet Graffiti Classics, touring worldwide with their theatre show and providing educational workshops for schools and for children with special needs. He also freelances as a baritone, singing with Westminster Cathedral Choir, St Bartholomew the Great Choir, Philharmonia Voices, BBC Singers, Arcangelo, Eric Whitacre Singers, Gabrieli Consort and Tenebrae.

Solo performances include Bach’s B minor Mass, Brahms’ German Requiem, Carmina Burana, Verdi’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah (ECO) and operatic roles include Truffaldino (Ariadne auf Naxos), Don Pasquale, Don Alfonso (Cosi fan Tutte), Isacio (Ricardo Primo), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Dr Bartolo (Barber of Seville) and Dulcamara (L’Elisir D’Amore).


The ELMS Orchestra is sourced primarily from the London Music Colleges, and brings together musicians who are either currently studying or have recently graduated and are now playing professionally in the U.K and abroad. Many of the players work regularly with orchestras such as The Hallé, The London Philharmonic, The Royal Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera and The BBC Philharmonic. The ELMS Orchestra is very much looking forward to performing the Verdi Requiem and to future concerts at Brentwood Cathedral.

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