COVID-19 Update and Plans for 2020-21 Season

Amidst the disappointment of having to cancel our Easter concert and continuing uncertainty over the remainder of the current season, the Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir is delighted to announce that plans for next season are already well advanced (subject to government guidelines, of course).

We will kick off with a ‘Come and Sing – Hallelujah and other famous choruses’ on Saturday 3rd October, and we will give our first concert, of Brahms ‘Ein Deutches Requiem’, on Saturday 21st November. Our Christmas concert will be on Saturday 19th December, and we will begin the new year with another ‘Come and Sing’ on Saturday 23rd January 2021, performing Mozart’s ‘Great Mass in C minor’.

All these events will be led by our new Director of Music, Lee Dunleavy, who will take up his post in September 2020. Further details of the above events, and of the remaining concerts in the 2020-21 season, will be published in due course. Meanwhile, we trust that all our loyal audience members are managing to stay safe and well, and we look forward to seeing you again before too long. Thank you for your support!

A Brief History of the Choir

Founded in 1939 by Dr Stanley Vann, the Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir (RLSBC) is about to celebrate its 80th anniversary. Stanley Vann, whose long and successful career as a choral conductor and composer continued through to his death in 2010, conducted the Choir’s first concert, a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, in the spring of 1940. In March 2000, the RLSBC celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a triumphant concert that included one of the great English choral works, A Sea Symphony, composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was appointed the first Patron and President of the Choir in 1940.

Dr Vann has been succeeded by a distinguished array of musical directors. In recent years, under the batons of Malcolm Goldring, Janet Lince, Nigel Stark and now under the baton of our new Musical Director and Conductor, Christopher Cromar, the Choir has continued to expand its repertoire, ranging from the classical, baroque and romantic periods to music of the twentieth century. Performances have included compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Britten, Cherubini, Chilcott, Duruflé, Dvořak, Elgar, Fauré, Handel, Haydn, Holst, Janacek, Kodaly, Lauridsen, Mendelssohn, Monteverdi, Mozart, Orff, Rachmaninov, Rossini, Rutter, Tippett, Vaughan Williams, Verdi and Walton.

The Choir has benefited from working with a number of different local orchestras, and we have a long and happy relationship with the Beauchamp Sinfonietta. We enjoy working with a range of soloists, and in 2007, a highlight for us was to share a stage with the world-famous opera star Sir John Tomlinson in a charity concert in Leamington’s Spa Centre. The Choir usually performs four concerts a year at a variety of venues in and around Leamington Spa, but concerts have also been staged in Tewkesbury Abbey, Southwell Minster, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Gloucester Cathedral, Douai Abbey, Portsmouth Guildhall, and most recently in Peterborough Cathedral.  The Choir has also performed abroad in Bruges, Ghent and Paris. The Choir aims to give performances of a high musical standard, but also believes that music making should be fun and a good way to make new friends. New members in any voice part are always welcome.

Musical Director & Conductor | Christopher Cromar

Christopher Cromar was born in Scotland where he was a chorister at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Dundee. In 1992 he won a scholarship to Chetham’s School of Music, studying the organ with Christopher Stokes at Manchester Cathedral, and with Nicolas Kynaston and Kimberly Marshall in London. He was a finalist in the 1995 and 1997 National Young Organist Competitions at Plymouth.

In 1997 Christopher moved to France to pursue his studies with Marie-Louise Langlais at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris, and privately with Marie-Claire Alain. Living in France for three years, he was organist at St. George’s Anglican Church, and deputised frequently at the grand orgue at Sainte-Clotilde for Jacques Taddei, and at La Trinité for Naji Hakim. He regularly played the orgue de chœur at the Cathedral of Notre Dame for concerts and services organised by the Paris Branch of the Royal British Legion, and for ecumenical services during Christian Unity weeks.

Christopher has given organ recitals at many prestigious venues including: Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, King’s College Cambridge, St. Giles’ Cathedral Edinburgh, the Caird Hall Dundee, in the United Kingdom; Notre Dame, Sainte-Clotilde, Saint-Germain-des Prés, Saint-Roch, Saint-Étienne-de-Caen in France, and throughout Germany, Greece, Holland and the USA. He has played with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris, and recently performed the Poulenc Organ Concerto in Guildford Cathedral with Southern Pro Musica.

Contemporary music is a prominent feature of Christopher’s repertoire. He premiered Errollyn Wallen’s Tiger at the 2001 Oundle International Festival, and gave the piece its London premiere later that year at St. Paul’s Cathedral. He has worked closely with many contemporary composers including Peter Aston, Peter Maxwell Davies, Jonathan Dove and Naji Hakim, frequently in preparation for first performances and broadcasts.

Choral conducting and church music also form a major part of Christopher’s career: in London he has deputised regularly on the music staff at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey since 2005; recent conducting credits include Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius at the RNCM (with Salford Choral Society and members of the BBC Philharmonic), Bach’s St. John Passion at Keele University Chapel (with Northern Baroque); forthcoming conducting engagements include Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St. John Passion with Congleton Choral Society and Northern Baroque.

Illustrious choruses with which Christopher has worked as guest chorus master and accompanist include the Chorus of Radio France, BBC Singers, Manchester Chamber Choir, RSNO Chorus and the Vasari Singers.

The Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir is delighted to be working with our new Musical Director and Conductor Christopher Cromar since the start of 2019.

Christopher has introduced a Come and Sing programme to introduce new singers to the choir, starting with an event in January where we rehearsed Mozart’s Requiem in a workshop at Holy Trinity Church, Leamington Spa, concluding with a performance for a small but enthusiastic audience.

This event was very successful and generated a lot of interest, so it was followed in September 2019 by a second Come and Sing workshop featuring Karl Jenkins ‘The Armed Man’ – again concluding with an informal performance for family & friends. This too was a very popular event, and has generated some more new members for the choir.

A further Come and Sing date has now been added to our programme in January 2020, when we will be rehearsing Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Tickets are already on sale, so for further details please go to the Events page.

At the end of March 2019, the Bach Choir reprised the Mozart Requiem together with the Hadyn Theresien Mass, supported by orchestra and soloists at All Saints Church Leamington Spa, to the delight of the Mayor of Leamington and a full audience.

The Summer Concert in 2019 treated our audience to a lively performance of modern choral pieces from John Brunning – well-known Classic FM presenter and self styled musician and composer – and John Rutter – whose Feel the Spirit was sung with gusto, led by the remarkable mezzo soprano Melanie Marshall, who first performed the premiere with the composer in Carnegie Hall.

November 2019, and the Mayor’s concert, gave the Choir a chance to wow our audience with Fauré’s Requiem, plus a stirring rendition of Elgar’s Music Makers.

The Choir is already going from strength to strength under our new leadership, and we invite you to join us for some exciting performances in our 80th anniversary season. Just pop along to the Events page for details of our concert programme.

Accompanist | Colin Druce

The Bach Choir is extremely fortunate to be supported in our practices and concerts by Colin Druce, professional pianist and organist.  Colin trained with Roger Fisher, the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chester Cathedral, and later at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he won the Ludlow Philharmonic Concerto Competition Prize. Colin gives recitals and concerto performances at venues throughout the country as a concert organist, concert pianist, and is very well known in his local area of Leamington Spa and Warwick. 

He is also known an accomplished accompanist, not least through his long association with the Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir and the Warwick and Kenilworth Choral Society. Colin is a sought after teacher and has a thriving private piano and organ teaching practice in Warwickshire, and gives lessons for both adults and children from complete beginners to Grade 8 and Diploma level.  For more details of Colin’s activities, please visit “

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