Chorus CD tops the charts!

Tuesday 20 October 2020

The CD recorded by the Chorus with Black Dyke Band has reached the Number One spot in the Classic FM Specialist Classical Albums charts, outselling recordings by Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, the Halle, the Sixteen and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Chorus recorded the new Naxos CD release of music by composer John Rutter with the world-famous Black Dyke Band one chilly October evening last year, in St Oswald’s Church on Bannerdale Road in Sheffield. Directed by Prof Nicholas Childs and Chorus Music Director Darius Battiwalla, the CD Anthems, Hymns and Gloria for Brass Band was recently featured as Album of the Week on the Classic FM radio station. The impact on sales from around the world was immediate, and the CD rapidly moved up the chart over the following week.

Chorus and band recording the Gloria in St Oswald’s Church

‘We joined the band to record Rutter’s concert work ‘Gloria’, which was commissioned in 1974 by The Voices of Mel Olsen in Omaha, Nebraska, when Rutter was making his first trip to the United States.’ explained Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge. ‘We love collaborating with this amazing band of consummate musicians, who join us for the annual carol concert in the City Hall each year. We had a wonderful evening at St Oswald’s and are absolutely delighted that it has  led to an Album of the Week and the Number One slot!’

The CD features eleven tracks composed by Rutter and arranged for brass band by Belgian conductor Luc Vertommen. It includes many of the English choral composer’s most famous works, including the Pie Jesu from his 1985 Requiem, and This is the Day composed for the wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

The Chorus has collaborated with the Black Dyke Band on numerous occasions, including two world premieres, Philip Wilby’s oratorio Holy Face with Leeds Philharmonic Chorus in 2017 and Paul Mealor’s beautiful Paradise in 2018. Joint recordings include Wilby’s Holy Face and Awake Arise, a Christmas CD full of festive music from Yorkshire. Chorus Music Director and Leeds City Organist Darius Battiwalla is no stranger to brass band music, regularly composing and arranging works for brass and chorus. 

Recording with Black Dyke Band in St Oswald’s Church Bannerdale Road Sheffield

‘Darius most recently arranged two pieces for brass band and chorus during the coronavirus lock-down’ said Chorus Administrator Anne Adams, ‘One is an beautiful soprano aria from Handel’s Messiah, which we were planning to present with Black Dyke in Sheffield cathedral but sadly had to postpone, and the other is a 16th Century German carol which we and Black Dyke are going to record from our homes as part of a virtual Christmas carol concert in December.’

Chorus and band hope to present the brass Messiah in 2021, alongside choirs from France and Germany, and the Chorus is still hoping to be able to present Rachmaninov’s Vespers and Faure’s Requiem at the City Hall in May and June 2021.

In the meantime you can hear the new arrangement of Handel’s ‘How Beautiful are the Feet‘ on the Chorus website at sheffieldphil.org / records-and-books / how-beautiful-are-the-feet , you can buy our buy our Christmas CD – and of course you can help to keep the John Rutter Anthems CD at the top of the charts by buying it from the Black Dyke Band website at www.blackdykeshop.co.uk

Lockdown performance of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus music director’s new arrangement for Handel’s Messiah

A Sheffield choir music director has been busy over lockdown, writing a new brass arrangement for Handel’s Messiah which world-famed musicians performed in their homes.

By Julia Armstrong Sheffield Telegraph Tuesday, 21st July 2020

The arrangement by Darius Battiwalla of the soprano aria How Beautiful Are the Feet is actually one of three from the Messiah that he put together for Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus.

“Darius wrote the new arrangements for us in return for continued payment during the lockdown,” said chorus chair Paul Henstridge. “We’re absolutely thrilled. It means that when we eventually perform the brass version with the wonderful Black Dyke Band, we can sing two more choruses than would otherwise have been possible”.

The chorus were set to perform a brass version of Messiah in April but the concert had to be postponed. Soprano Catrin Pryce-Jones was to have appeared alongside the chorus, so she was delighted when Darius asked her to make a virtual recording of How Beautiful Are the Feet, along with members of the world-famous Black Dyke Band, all performing from their own homes during lockdown.

“The new arrangement is very light and delicate, which is just right for this aria,” said chorus administrator Anne Adams. “Catrin sings it beautifully and the band accompany her with great sensitivity.”

You can judge for yourself, as the recording has been uploaded to the chorus website and can be enjoyed for free at https://sheffieldphil.org/how-beautiful-are-the-feet/.

In addition to the new Messiah arrangements, the chorus also commissioned Darius to write some Christmas music for them to sing at their popular annual carol concert at the City Hall in December. He has created a new brass arrangement of Resonet in Laudibus, a 16th-century German carol. If that concert can’t go ahead, they plan to perform it virtually as part of an online carol concert, along with the Black Dyke Band, again recorded from their own homes.

The brass Messiah concert has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Sheffield City Hall. The 180 members of the chorus were going to be joined by more than 50 singers from Perigeux in France and from Sheffield’s twin city of Bochum in Germany. Happily, both choirs are planning to cross the Channel for the rescheduled concert.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Link to the article in the Sheffield Telegraph online