Bach “St Matthew Passion” 5 April 2009

J S Bach
J S Bach
Palm Sunday, 5th April 2009 7 p.m. © Albion URC 2003
Albion Church
The Albion Church, Ashton

The Albion Church, one of the largest and most beautiful United Reformed churches in the country, was the setting for Bach’s great portrayal of the suffering and death of Christ.

The choir was augmented in the magnificent opening chorus by Oldham Hulme Grammar School for Boys (trebles).

The following article appeared in the Oldham Evening Chronicle on 9th April 2009 (reproduced by permission):

Singing with Pride and Passion

Oldham Choral Society: JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Albion Church, Ashton.

The future of Oldham’s amateur classical music is in safe hands — at least if groups such as Oldham Choral Society continue to deliver performances like Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” last Sunday.

The choir, in its 125th Anniversary year, put the lie to the view that easy access, on the web or radio, to the world’s greatest musicians makes us less tolerant of music that is short of perfect.

The reception given to Oldham Choral Society in the packed Albion Church, was emphatically positive response to the musical feat pulled off by musical director Nigel Wilkinson.

From the opening section, helped out by a small choir of Hulme Grammar School’s boy trebles, the choir and the on-form East Lancashire Sinfonia met the challenges head-on, of one of Bach’s biggest and best loved choral works.

As usual the choir was supported by excellent soloists — one of the reasons that their concerts are good value for money.

Chief among them on this occasion was the sweet-voiced tenor Huw Rhys-Davies whose narration as “The Evangelist” held the audience, at times, silently spellbound.

It would be easy to pick holes in the detail: the odd minor tuning error in the orchestra or the fuller chorale sections where tenors and basses occasionally lacked strength, but that would be to do an injustice.

The production proved that technical perfection is not all — this was good classical music in a beautiful venue for far less money, and with more passion than some classier city venues.

You can hear Oldham Choral Society sing Handel’s Messiah at the new Middleton Arena on Sunday June 7.

For more information on the church, see the Albion’s web site.

Huw Rhys Evans
Huw Rhys Evans – Evangelist
Christian Immler
Christian Immler  –   Christ
David Usher
David Usher – Bass-baritone
Adrienne Murray
Adrienne Murray – Alto
Nicola Howard
Nicola Howard – Soprano
Orchestra East Lancs Sinfonia
Conductor Nigel Wilkinson

Tickets were available in advance at £7.00 (children £1) from:

  • Our Ticket Secretaries: 01706 64 4217 or 01457 875 221
  • Online, via the concert’s listing on
  • Oldham Tourist Information: 0161 770 3064
  • Ashton Tourist Information: 0161 343 4343
  • … or for £8.00 at the door (children £1) before the performance.