Latest News

Hilary Campbell and Joi Demery (Chair) receiving the RPS Inspiration Award


Hilary, our Musical Director and BCS were the winners of the Inspiration Award at the Royal Philharmonic Society in November 2021.

It was a great honour to have been nominated for this award so to have won is thrilling and a huge thank you to everyone who voted for us!


Read More Here

BCS Back at the Beacon with handel's messiah!

Bristol Choral Society were thrilled to be one of the first choirs to perform at the newly refurbished Bristol Beacon with the wonderful Handel's Messiah.

We have a long association with both Handel's Messiah and Bristol Beacon having performed it over 150 times since our first rendition on 21 December 1892!

Read More Here

BCS Recording Weekend!

Members of Bristol Choral Society spent an exhilarating weekend recording our second CD with Delphian Records in the wonderful Clifton College Chapel.

The CD will be available next summer in the meantime you can read more details below or if you would like to support BCS you can donate to our crowdfunding via the button below.



  • Verdi Requiem - Reviews are in!
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 20 Mar 2024

    Bristol Post March 2024



    And a view from the audience!

    It was an honour to hear Bristol Choral Society last evening at the Bristol Beacon. I went with my wife, also a professional musician, and we were both sure that there would be a special atmosphere, having heard the choir sing Messiah last December. We were not disappointed. (Even though a drenching from just opposite the Beacon caused one to steam a little at the start of the concert.)

    To the performance, then. The choir discipline in sits and stands in unison is pleasing, and, as far as I could see, members of the choir were enjoying the atmosphere with a sense of anticipation similar to the audience near us (G24,25 in the stalls).

    The orchestral tone and ensemble in the opening movement was delectable, and heralded many riches to come. There is more to say in due course. It may have been just me, but I detected a slight hesitation at the il più piano possibile vocal entry? It is, of course, notoriously difficult, but actually set the bounds for the choral dynamic after a few slight intonation mishits. This, at the start of a long work, is almost inevitable and certainly did not detract in any sense.

    As someone who has studied this score in detail from a conducting point of view, and played 1st horn in it on several occasions, I was greatly impressed by many elements of this performance, choir, soloists, and orchestra – but, perhaps particularly, I applaud the choir’s vivacious tone production, its discipline, and especially the fact each time the Dies irae recurred its full, chattering effect was given the vital charge of energy it needs. (Around my wife and me, several audience members jumped – perhaps a banal thing to notice, but to my mind that, amongst other things, shows the whole ensemble’s commitment to Verdi’s operatic vision.) The whole was given the urgency which the music needs.

    Turning to the soloists, it would be hard to find a more engaged and engaging quartet. Each voice was distinct in timbre, fluent in diction, and able to articulate both the meaning and the drama of the work. More than this, they were appropriately beguiling as Verdi’s writing moved into the more intimate expressions of the piece.

    I have not yet had the pleasure of being on the Beacon stage myself, but from the firm and assured playing of the orchestra I would imagine it to be a very pleasant experience. Although it did not seem to cause the choir too much of a problem, to me the lighting, especially for the back rows of the choir, seemed rather dim and perhaps made reading the score somewhat awkward.

    However, it would be hard to find such an accomplished orchestra from a totally scratch combination of players, as is often the case for choral performances – the fact that this orchestra has many players who frequently work together meant that the music was given full range from beguiling delicacy to apocalyptic revelation. All sections of the orchestra participated in this triumph – and, to mention just one instrument, it is not all that often that a gran cassa is quite so sonorous and loud!

    To sum up, this was a generous and thrilling concert. We certainly enjoyed it – and appreciated the enthusiasm evident at the end in the choir;  we also felt that the standing ovation for all musicians was thoroughly deserved. A large part of this is that the enthusiasm and joy in singing was so evident. Thank you all, and the two of us look forward to the chance to hear you again!
    David Dewar

    Click here to see reviews for all Bristol Choral Society Concerts
  • Radio Stars!
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 9 Mar 2024
    Two members of the choir, Val Williams (alto) and Phil Coleman (bass) have been talking all things BCS and Verdi on BCFM local community radio "Saturday Edition" .

    To listen to their brilliant interview click on the link here go to Saturday 9th March Saturday Edition, then scroll forward 1 hour 15 mins. You'll know you're there when you hear the opening of the Dies Irae!!

    The concert is taking place next Saturday 16th March at the Bristol Beacon, extra seats have just been released at £15.00 and £22.50 as well as all tickets for under 25-year=olds only £5.00. Book your tickets here.

  • Come and Sing Opera Choruses - A Great Afternoon Singing!
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 5 Feb 2024

    Over a 100 people joined us for an afternoon of singing Opera Choruses on the 3rd February.

    Members of BCS with a warm welcome at registration

    The weather might have been dreary outside but our Musical Director Hilary Campbell accompanied by our Assistant MD Steven Kings soon had us warming up and summoning up our acting skills - some more enthusiastically than others!

    Warming up!

    We traversed a wide repertoire from the familiar including Verdi - imagining we were hebrew slaves, the beautiful Puccini Humming Chorus to the less well known but powerful Bernstein - Make our Garden Grow.

    There was, of course, a well earned break for tea and cake and we completed the afternoon by performing the six opera choruses we had spent the afternoon working on, to a very discerning audience!

  • Come and try us out! - BCS Open Rehearsal!
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 18 Jan 2024
    This coming year is going to be exciting, as we get back to performing concerts in the Bristol Beacon, and is a great moment to join the choir.

    Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings 7.15 - 9.30pm in Broadmead Baptist Church. The entrance is on Union Street, BS1 3HY and is easily reachable via public transport. All ages are welcome and we are proud of having a wide age-range of singers in the choir.

    Our dynamic musical director, Hilary Campbell always starts us off with a great warm up and we are fortunate to be accompanied by our assistant musical director, Steven Kings. We are also joined by our cannine member, Hilary's dog Fizzy!

    We are currently rehearsing the wonderful Verdi Requiem for our next concert on March 16th in Bristol Beacon.

    So if you think you might be interested and would like to sing some Verdi, why not come to our open rehearsal on Wednesday 24th January?

    You can just turn up at 7.00pm, Broadmead Baptist Church
    and you will provided with a score if you need it and are guaranteed a friendly welcome.

    f you would like more information about the open rehearsal then you can email our chorus manager and for general information about joining the choir follow the link here.

  • Handel's Messiah: A 5* review!
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 20 Dec 2023


    Bristol Post December 2023

  • BCS back at the Bristol Beacon with Handel's Messiah!
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 7 Dec 2023
    Bristol Choral Society (BCS) is very excited to be giving one of the first classical concerts at the wonderfully refurbished Bristol Beacon.

    BCS have a long and happy association both with the Hall and Messiah.

    Messiah was first performed by BCS as the first concert in its 4th season (year), on 21 December 1892 and then every year after
    except in 1896 (when Judas Maccabeus was substituted), in 1899 when the Hall was burned down (a fire that started in a clothing factory next door and spread), and in the years 1914 and 1915, during WWI, concerts were suspended as military forces were in occupation of the hall. Messiah was the first concert given during WWI on 16 December 1916.

    During WWII the choir continued to give concerts. The choir combined forces with the Bristol Philharmonic Society (which disbanded a few years later) to sing Messiah on November 28 1942.

    After the CH burned down in February 1945, the choir sang Messiah (1947 and 1950) in the Central Hall in Old Market (a Methodist hall also used for concerts and now converted into flats) and in March 1949 in St Mary Redcliffe Church.

    It was sung every year between 1892 – 1939 except for the four occasions above.

    A couple of extracts from a press cutting ( can be viewed in full below) from the Bristol Mercury reviewing the choir's Messiah of 17 December 1906 states:

    "the choir numbered 470 voices, and in the orchestra were 110 instrumentalists". Wow!!!

    Also:  "It was the second concert of the present season, which is the eighteenth of the Society's operations; and the attendance reached proportions that must be gratifying to all immediately concerned in the concerts. The night was not a pleasant one for venturing out of doors - drizzling rain being accompanied by a wintry chilliness not altogether of the bracing sort; and the warmth, brightness, and animation within the hall were in agreeable contrast to the dreariness without. Leading supporters of the Society mustered in strong force, the Lord Mayor occupying his accustomed place in the President's  Gallery, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress. The Lord Mayor is one of those who bring with them the score of a work to be performed, following it throughout with critical closeness."

    We are very pleased that the Lord Mayor remains one of the Society's Presidents and we continue to welcome them to many of our concerts, with or without their copy of the score!

    From some time in the 1970s and up until at least the end of the 1980s, we were singing Messiah twice at Christmas. In the latter years we introduced a whole new generation of children to the Messiah with our very popular Mini Messiah, filling the Hall with children and families and helping them to understand the music and the orchestra.

    The annual Messiah has thus been feature of BCS since its very early days. Prior to the Beacon, there were four different Colston Halls, and the BCS has sung Messiah in all of them.

    It’s a tradition we are proud of, and we will be filling the hall on December 16th once again.  Hurry to get your tickets.

    Below you can see a performers ticket for Messiah from 1938 (for the performer to gain entry to the building via the performers' entrance)

    With thanks to BCS member Julie Parker for providing the historical information.
  • BCS Recording Weekend!
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 2 Nov 2023
    Members of Bristol Choral Society enjoyed an exhilarating weekend recording our second CD with Delphian Records in Clifton College Chapel.

    Conducted by our inspirational Musical Director Hilary Campbell we were joined by a number of wonderful professional musicians and even two of the composers which was very exciting.

    On the Friday soprano soloist Charlotte Mobbs set us off by recording three solo pieces accompanied by our very own Assistant MD Steven Kings. Including Cecilia McDowall's Four Shakespeare Sons, Ralph Vaughan Williams: Orpheus with his Lute and Elizabeth Maconchy: Ophelia's Song.

    Charlotte Mobbs

    On Saturday the choir were in full force to record Grace-Evangeline Mason's A Memory of the Ocean, which we premiered in concert in June this year. Once again we were accompanied by Steven Kings on piano, Evva Mizerska on cello and Charlotte Mobbs as our soprano soloist.  We were delighted that Grace was able to join us for the recording and provide us with insights into her composition.

    Grace-Evangeline Mason

    The afternoon we spent recording Vauhgan Williams O Taste and See and finshed off with Holst Psalm 148 both with Richard Moore on organ.

    Sunday saw us back in Clifton College Chapel, having appreciated the extra hours sleep, to record Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb. As well as Richard on organ we were joined by solists Emily Wenman (soprano), Phillipa Thomas (Mezzo-soprano), Robert Jenkins (Tenor) and Lawrence White (Bass).

    Thankfully the voices were still in good shape for the final afternoon recording of Judith Weir's Praise Him with Trumpets and Elizabeth Poston's Festal Te Deum, another two pieces that have not been previously recorded.  We were joined by Jo Harris and Neil Brough on trumpets and the choir were honoured that Judith Weir also joined us to advise and inspire us. It definitely improved the performance of the choir.

    Hilary Campbell and Judith Weir in consultation

    It was certainly a fantastic weekend, hard work and exhausting but exhilarating and we cannot wait until next summer when we will get to hear the final product!

  • A Memory of the Ocean: A 5* Review!
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 27 Jun 2023

    Bristol Post 27 June 2023

  • A World Premiere!
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 31 May 2023


    Grace-Evangeline Mason: A Memory of the Ocean - a new commission
    Bristol Choral Society and Hilary Campbell are proud to present the world premiere on June 24 of A Memory of the Ocean by Grace-Evangeline Mason. A prominent young musical star, Mason was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) to compose this collection of pieces. The result is simply breathtaking. The concert also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose Trust also supported the commission from Mason. As she says, her work is inspired by Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony. Just think about the ocean, the close harmony of waves and currents, along with haunting melodies from piano and cello.

    Women composers and performers are at the centre of the concert on June 24, with works by Elizabeth Poston and Judith Weir also on the programme. The first ever CD recorded by Bristol Choral Society in 2020, ‘The Big Picture’, featured music by Judith Weir. Now there are plans for a second CD in 2023, with Grace-Evangeline’s music at the centre. We invite all music lovers in Bristol to join us for this unique occasion.

    For further information and Tickets

  • Bristol Choral Society 'Sing for the King'
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 3 May 2023

    Members of Bristol Choral Society took part in a unique event with 650 singers to celebrate Bristol's 650th birthday and the coronation of King Charles III.

    The cathedral resounded to the sound of Handel's Coronation Anthem - Zadok the Priest.

    It was an amazing experience for all involved.

  • Britten Hymn to St Cecilia
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 15 Mar 2023

    Saturday March 25th 
    Bristol Cathedral 

    Bristol Choral Society's Spring concert is devoted to the music of Benjamin Britten. If you do not know these pieces, you're in for a great treat.  From quiet, peaceful whispers in the choral parts, through to loud bursts of energy - Britten's music is full of  humour, passion and melody.  

    Not only will you be able to enjoy the full force - and the quiet energy -  of the full choir, but the evening will also include solo performances from Edward Grint (Bass), Robert Jenkins (Tenor), Emily Wenman (Soprano) and Katie Bray (Alto). Accompanied by Martin Ford, they will perform Canticle II for Alto and Tenor, plus an intriguing piece called 'Tit for Tat' (Bass solo and piano). 

    BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW online at or call Bristol Beacon 0117 203 4040 Tickets £11 to £28, under 25s £5
  • Come and Sing - Rutter: Gloria
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 14 Jan 2023

    Saturday February 11th

    Arrive around 1.00 for 1.30 start
    Tyndale Baptist Church
    Whiteladies Rd, Bristol BS8 2QG

    Our 'Come and Sing' workshop, with Hilary Campbell and Steve Kings, is a chance to join Bristol Choral Society for an afternoon of exciting and engaging music drawn from John Rutter's 'Gloria'. As always, this is a totally inclusive event, music will be provided, and Hilary will support everyone to take part in her own inimitable way. 

    Rutter composed the Gloria to be sung as a concert work. He directed the first performance on his first visit to the United States in May 1974. Some of you will already be familiar with it, but for many of us, this is something new and so we will all be 'in it' together!  As John Rutter himself says: 'The music is simple and direct in style'. All are welcome!

    'The Big Picture' (our choir's CD) is ON SALE at only £5, and you can order your copy online when you book for this event.  Choral Society members are busy baking cakes for the tea break, music will be provided on the day, and tickets cost just £20 for the day, or £10 for those under 25. 



    We're a friendly bunch of music lovers, and if you haven't been before, do come along to meet us - or to try out the choir!
  • Stravinsky A Symphony of Psalms and Fauré Requiem: A Review
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 30 Nov 2022

  • Great Fun had by all at the Choir Weekend!
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 22 Sep 2022

    Window from the Ammerdown Centre, Radstock, Wilsthire

    50 friendly singers, stunning accommodation in the sunny Somerset countryside, delicious food and a relaxed bar. If that was not enough- there was music!

    We had a perfect balance between singing, enjoying the surroundings, sharing meals, enjoying the bar and informal music making. 

    Hilary chose a rich variety of music from renaissance polyphony to something just a little different to balance our normal repertoire.  And of course Steve was the perfect accompanist.   

    It was just such a relaxing oasis that let us all relax and get to know each other better. 


    Looking forward to 2024!


  • Schubert Mass in A Flat: A Review
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 17 Jun 2022

  • Hallelujah Flashmob
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 17 May 2022
    Hallelujah Flashmob

    flashmob Messiah

    Sunday 5 June

    Bristol loves a good flashmob and on Sunday 5 June see if you can spot a special rendition of the famous Hallelujah! Chorus from Handel’s Messiah at venues from Temple Meads station to College Green.   Members of Bristol Choral Society and their friends and family are warmly invited to attend and even take part in this unique event, organised by St George’s Bristol as part of the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. 

    For more details visit:
  • Mozart Treasures Concert: A review
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 31 Mar 2022

    Photo: Barbara Evripidou/

    Finally the long awaited concert of Mozart Treasures postponed from March 2020 took place in Bristol Cathedral on 26th March 2022. The longest rehearsal time for any of our concerts but it was well recieved. The concert was reviewed by Samir Savant (CEO, St George's Bristol)  ...'lovely sustained tone and carefully paced dynamics'. 

    Read the full review here.

  • Launch of Bristol Choral Society's debut CD - The Big Picture
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 2 Feb 2022

    On 23 October, Bristol Choral Society celebrated the release of our first recording for choir, piano and percussion with classical label Delphian. Our musical director Hilary Campbell, our virtual host, was joined by judith Weir, Master of the Queen's Music and composer of the disc's title piece 'The Big Picture'. The CD also includes music by Cecilia McDowall and Bob Chilcott.

    It was a splendid evening with Hilary taking us through a virtual journey of the CD and playing a number of clips, which can be found here.

    The CD is now available in our on line shop.
  • Winners of the RPS Award for Inspiration 2021!
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 1 Feb 2022

    Hilary Campbell (centre), musical director of Bristol Choral Society, with Chair Joi Demery, recieving the Inspiration Award from John Gilhooly, Chair of RPS.

    Hilary our conductor, along with the choir itself, were the proud winners of the 'Inspiration Award' at the Royal Philharmonic Society this week!!

    The results were announced in a nail-biting ceremony at the Wigmore Hall, London on Monday 1st November, and we were so amazingly proud of Hilary - and of course of you, our wonderful audience members and supporters. Without you, we would be nowhere, as this particular award was down to a public vote. 


    The RPS tweeted their announcement with: ‘Led by Hilary’s unbounded energy, the choir gave stirring renditions of choral works throughout the pandemic, as well as launching their debut CD and a carol commisioning competition'.

    Thank you all so much for your support!  We felt that the inspiration award really was well earned by Hilary, who has kept us all going with music making over this past couple of years, despite all the problems. A great achievement!

    This news comes of course after our double win in the 'Making Music' awards, so we are certainly not short of plaudits right now.


  • Mozart Treasures Concert
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 20 Jan 2022

    Happy New Year to all our friends and audience members! 

    Bristol Choral Society is delighted to announce the start of a new season for 2022, and with all hopes that more live concerts will go ahead during this coming year.  We vastly enjoyed singing the Messiah again just before Christmas, and were so pleased that our audiences also expressed their pleasure at being back in the rhythm of festive choral offerings!  

    Our upcoming concert now will be just as popular, as it features an all-Mozart programme.  So hurry to get your tickets for the 26th March. We'll be in the beautiful setting of Bristol Cathedral, as usual these days. But the tickets are being organised now via a different route - so just follow this link:
    or call the ticket office 01452 768 928
    Tickets are from £11 to £28, with our usual deal for under 25s at £5
    (Please note there is also a £2.50 booking fee)
    We are again planning for socially distanced seating, to keep everyone safe, as that worked well at Christmas in the vast spaces of Bristol Cathedral. 

    You will all know by now our amazing conductor, Hilary Campbell. She has been the recipient of prestigious awards over the last year, and with justification. Throughout the pandemic, the choir rehearsed under Hilary's baton on regular Zoom rehearsals, and in fact our rehearsals are still optionally on Zoom as well as in-person. Hilary and the choir have learnt new ways of tackling music, even though initially of course the option of singing remotely was simply a practical reaction to lockdown. Now we see it can give us even greater flexibility.

    The programme for the upcoming Mozart concert was one of the first that we learnt via our Zoom rehearsals, more than a year ago now. And it was so uplifting and magical to be making music in this way, despite all the problems we were facing. Mozart doesn't fail to keep our spirits up, and we are sure you will find the same in our concert in March.
  • New singers welcome
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 12 Jul 2021

    This coming season in 2021/22 is going to be exciting, as we get back to live concerts, and is a great moment to join the choir, if you'd like to give us a try. 
     Tenors and basses are particularly needed, but don't worry if you are 'just an alto': you'll find a warm welcome! You can try us out by attending a few rehearsals before having a (very friendly) audition to join as a full member. Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings 7-9.00.  All ages are welcome and we are proud of having a wide age-range of singers in the choir from 14 years upward. So if you think you might be interested, just fill in the form here or contact our chorus manager:

    And here is a taste of the repertoire we have covered during the Pandemic. All of this is soon to be coming to a concert hall (or cathedral) near you: 

    Mozart:  Alma Dei Creatoris; Regina Coeli
    Finzi:  Lo, The Full Final Sacrifice
    Imogen Holst: Three Psalms
    Bainton: And I Saw a New Heaven
    Elizabeth Poston (first public performance): Festal Te Deum

    As you can see, we cover both well known favourites alongside new and exciting challenges.  

    Check out our virtual recording of Rachmaninov here

    And all our news here:
  • Could you be our next choral scholar?
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 12 Jul 2021

    A particularly innovative scheme in our choir is that we recruit up to four paid choral scholars each year, who are young rising stars, often just starting out on their solo careers. You yourself may want to apply for one of these positions, or you may know people who would be keen. Do please pass on the word!

    Right now, we have two soprano choral scholars, and we are looking to recruit alto, tenor and bass scholars. Scholarships can start at any point in the season and are worth £1000. They are ideal for aspiring professional singers aged between 18 and 30, wishing to develop their choral singing and sight-reading and to broaden repertoire knowledge.

    They should be prepared to attend rehearsals and to sing in all our performances. Solo opportunities and small ensemble performances also come up during the season, and the choir delights in such brilliant voices in their midst.  Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evenings at Broadmead Baptist Church, Bristol. Not only do our choral scholars gain from being part of this amazing musical opportunity, but they also take an active role as ambassadors for the choir on social media and elsewhere.

    For further information and application forms please visit
Brought to you by Making Music
Copyright © 2024 Bristol Choral Society