fbpx
About The Bach Choir

About

About The Bach Choir

We’re the leading independent UK chorus known for performing the very best in choral music since 1876. Directed by David Hill MBE, our mission is to inspire and connect people of all backgrounds with the magnificence and emotional power of choral music through our performances, recordings and community projects.

Almost 150 years of choral excellence

We were founded in 1876 to sing the first UK performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor. In our 150-year history we have had only nine musical directors including Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Sir David Willcocks. The common thread since 1876 has been the passion and pursuit of excellence.  

Today, with HRH The Prince of Wales as our Patron, John Rutter CBE as our President, and David Hill MBE as our Musical Director, our performances and recordings go from strength to strength.

Bach remains important, with our critically acclaimed annual performance of the St Matthew Passion sung in English, and regular performances of the Mass in B minor.  But we don’t just sing Bach! As an independent choir, we commission, perform and record new works that add to the choral tradition of the future.

Powerful performances; memorable music

Feel the force of our 200 voices singing together and an emotional intensity that only a large choir can evoke. Whether the hushed intensity of a Bach Chorale or the exhilaration of a Verdi chorus, each of our performances has the power to move and inspire you.

We regularly perform and record across London and the UK, in prestigious venues from the Southbank Centre and Royal Albert Hall to Abbey Road Studios, and we have toured the world from the USA to China and the Sydney Opera House.  We sing at prestigious events from Royal Weddings to the annual Festival of Remembrance and have provided soundtracks to films such as Prometheus, The Martian and The Chronicles of Narnia, on Star Wars video games and even on a famous Rolling Stones track.

Inspiring singers, audiences and communities 

It’s the commitment of our members that inspires audiences and musicians alike. With over 240 talented singers coming from all walks of life and a community engagement programme that takes our passion for music into inner-city schools and dementia care homes, we are an active community performing, recording and sharing music for everyone to enjoy, whatever their age or background.  We believe that singing is good for people’s health, happiness and social inclusion and we’re as committed to inspiring the next generation as we are to preserving our own musical heritage.  

This is The Bach Choir.  A choral experience like no other.  

Get involved today.

THE BACH CHOIR – DIVERSITY STATEMENT

The Board of Trustees of The Bach Choir recognises the importance of promoting diversity in The Bach Choir and understands that it has much work to do in this area, particularly in extending its reach to a more diverse range of singing members, composers, soloists, and audience.  We have decided to begin by focusing on cultural and ethnic diversity, but it is our intention to go on to examine whether there are other barriers to membership – facing singers with disabilities, for example – and, if so, to try to identify ways to overcome these barriers.

At September 2021, more than half of the Board of Trustees is female, and this includes the Chair.  One (of 14 – 7%) of our Trustees identifies as black African and, whilst this does not make for an ethnically diverse Board, this is a significantly higher percentage of ethnic diversity than is represented amongst the singing membership as a whole (approx. 1%).

As a first step towards addressing this, Trustees attended a training course in November 2021 on unconscious bias, anti-racism and diversity and inclusion.  Training has also now been made available to our small staff team and to singing members who would like it.  Materials, including videos and written articles, are already available to members in a section of the members’ website specifically devoted to promoting diversity and inclusion.

Membership

Our singing membership already spans a wide age range, from 20 to 80, with 30% of our singers currently under the age of 35.  In addition, we have a policy that no-one should be prevented from singing in The Bach Choir for financial reasons alone, and this policy is supported by an active bursary programme, funded largely by Trusts and Foundations, which offers greatly reduced subscriptions to students and those for whom financial means would otherwise be a barrier to them joining.

We have much more work to do to increase ethnic diversity amongst our singing membership and we are actively seeking to address this by:

  • Collecting and monitoring data from applicants for audition in respect of their age, ethnicity, gender and any disability;
  • Matching this against successful auditionees and examining and analysing any disparities;
  • Working on ways to promote membership of The Bach Choir amongst currently underrepresented ethnicities and socio-economic groups, and to dismantle any barriers to membership facing these groups;
  • Continuing to offer singing workshops in schools where there are high percentages of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, receiving free school meals, receiving the pupil premium, and having English as their second language; inviting children from those schools to attend selected rehearsals and sing with The Bach Choir; and promoting a summer concert in which the children can showcase what they have learnt during the workshops;
  • Embarking on a project to refresh our public website, to enhance its appeal to people from diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

Repertoire

The Bach Choir’s aim is to perform choral works of excellence ‘of various schools’, regardless of the gender or ethnicity of the composer.  The Choir acknowledges that the standard choral repertory lacks diversity in both the gender and ethnicity of composers represented and is actively seeking to change this by:

  • Commissioning new music from an ethnically and culturally diverse range of composers and from female composers.  In the 2020-21 season, the Choir commissioned eight ethnically and culturally diverse composers, three of whom are female;
  • Including music from a diverse range of composers in the Choir’s future artistic planning;
  • Seeking to work with orchestras and soloists from diverse backgrounds.

Audience

The Bach Choir does not have its own dedicated venue and consequently we do not have as full a picture as we would like of the ethnicity, age and cultural background of our audiences.  Visual evidence from concerts before the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that there is significant underrepresentation of young people, and those from black and ethnically diverse backgrounds, in our audiences.  We are working to address this by:

  • Actively seeking ways to market our performances and Come and Sing days to as wide and diverse a range of people as possible;
  • Treating our community engagement work as part of our core programme, and inviting parents and teachers of children participating in our Vocalise! workshops to attend the end of year concert as our guests;
  • Seeking feedback, through post-concert questionnaires, from audiences at Vocalise! and other concerts;
  • Continuing to promote online choral workshops which can be accessed free of charge by all;
  • Refreshing and updating the photography on our website so that it appeals to a wider range of ages and ethnicities.