Top stage names join Birmingham Bach Choir for Shakespearean concert.
Famed stage and screen actors Juliet Stevenson and Anton Lesser join Birmingham Bach Choir for a unique concert honouring William Shakespeare.
Part of the year-long UK-wide celebrations marking 400 years since the Bard’s death, A Shakespearean Concert combines varied musical works inspired by the playwright with passages from his much-loved plays and sonnets, and takes place in both Birmingham (18th June 2016, CBSO Centre) and Stratford-upon-Avon (Saturday 2 n d July 2016, Stratford ArtsHouse).
Awarded the CBE in 1999, Juliet Stevenson (appearing in Birmingham) is one of Britain’s leading actresses. She has worked extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the National Theatre and the Royal Court, winning an Olivier award for her performance as Paulina in Death And The Maiden in 1991.
Her film appearances include Bend It Like Beckham, Being Julia, Mona Lisa Smile and Truly, Madly, Deeply, while her television work includes Sky Living’s supernatural thriller The Enfield Haunting, and two series of Atlantis and The Village.
Anton Lesser (appearing in Stratford-upon-Avon) recently received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor 2016 for his role in BBC’s acclaimed historical drama Wolf Hall.
Also famed for playing Qyburn in four seasons of Game Of Thrones, his many film and TV credits include Dickensian, Endeavour, The Hollow Crown, Ripper Street and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. On stage the former student of Birmingham’s Moseley Grammar School has appeared in numerous productions for the RSC and others, including The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming Of The Shrew, and Hamlet.
In acknowledgement of their artistic achievements, both Juliet and Anton are RSC Associate Artists.
Alongside the readings, Birmingham Bach Choir’s musical contributions to the evenings include Vaughan Williams’ sublime Three Shakespeare Songs, which feature pieces from The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Benjamin Britten’s regal Choral Dances From Gloriana; and Swedish composer Sven-Eric Johanson’s Fancies – a collection of 10 songs of very varying moods, inspired by six of Shakespeare’s best known plays.
Completing the programme are William Mathias’ inspirational Shakespeare Songs, and jazz pianist George Shearing’s Music To Hear suite. Consisting of five songs, the suite references several plays and sonnets including Much Ado About Nothing and the famed Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Joining the choir, conducted by Paul Spicer, are pianist Ben Kennedy, a Birmingham Conservatoire graduate with extensive West End and UK-touring credits, and rising jazz double bass player Samuel Ingvorsen.
Birmingham Bach Choir’s Chair Sarah Platt said: “We are performing a wonderfully varied programme which moves from Vaughan Williams’ eerie part-songs, to George Shearing’s jazz-inspired Music To Hear where a double bass player will add that pungent pizzicato to the mix!
“We’re thrilled too that Anton and Juliet will be joining us to add another layer of drama and enjoyment to this memorable programme.”
Tickets for both the Birmingham (18th June 2016, CBSO Centre) and Stratford-upon-Avon (2nd July 2016, Stratford ArtsHouse) concerts are £15 (£12 conc), available from 07901 798 442 or via: www.birmingham.bachchoir.com