Christmas Past & Present

Christmas Past & Present

St George's Bristol
Friday 15 and Saturday 16 December 2006

As part of our Anniversary Season we welcomed back our 3 previous conductors, Adrian Beaumont, Alistair Jones and Glyn Jenkins to join us in celebrating 40 years of top quality singing. Along with present conductor, Peter Leech, they performed some of their favourite Christmas music.

Each conductor selected music and rehearsed the Choir in preparation, and conducted their chosen items.

Hodie Christus natus est by Poulenc was one of the pieces the choir sang to win the 1996 ‘Sing Out’ HTV Choir of the Year competition and we performed it again under the direction of Glyn Jenkins.

We were also thrilled to welcome back former singing members of the Choir who added to the fine singing in the audience carols! and several of them gave readings.

(Scroll down for conductors' biographies)


Peter Leech conductor since 1999
Choir: I look from afar - Gabriel Jackson (b.1962)
Reading: Advent Calendar - Rowan Williams - read by Raefe Shelton
Everyone: O come, O come Emmanuel
Adrian Beaumont conductor 1967-1978
Choir: This have I done for my true love - Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Reading: Es ist ein Ros entsprungen - Jan Sandström / Praetorius
Reading: The Annunciation (after Tintoretto) - Rhian Gallagher - read by Kirsten Graham
Choir: The salutation of the Angel - Medieval carol arranged by A.Beaumont
Everyone: See amid the winter’s snow
Reading: Singing in the streets - Leonard Clark - read by Mike West
Choir (SSAA): Long long ago - A.Beaumont
Alistair Jones conductor 1978-82
Choir: The Shepherds' Cradle Song - Karl Leuner, arr. Charles MacPherson
Reading: Absentmindedness in a village choir (from Under the Greenwood Tree )- Thomas Hardy - read by Chris Brisley
Choir: The Holly and the Ivy - John Gardner (b.1917)
  Sans Day Carol - John Rutter (b.1945)
Reading: Christmas Carol - Eleanor Farjeon - read by Natasha Carver (Friday) and Rowena Winkler (Saturday)
Everyone: O little town of Bethlehem
Choir: O Magnum Mysterium - Morten Lauridsen (b.1943)
Reading: The meeting place (after Rubens The Adoration of the Magi -1634) - Christopher Pilling -
read by Angus Gregson (Friday) and Tony Peck (Saturday)
Glyn Jenkins conductor 1982-1999
Choir: There is no Rose - Richard Rodney Bennett (b.1936)
Everyone: I saw three ships - arr. G.Jenkins
Reading: Christmas Cake - Anon. - read by Jenny Jillich
Choir: Hodie Christus natus est! - Poulenc (1899-1963)
Peter Leech
Everyone: O come all ye faithful
Choir: Three Kings - Jonathan Dove (b.1959)
Reading: The Greatest of these is Subsidiarity - Oliver Pritchett - read by Dave Lewis
Choir: Angels from the realms of glory - James Letham
Encore We Wish You A Merry Christmas


ADRIAN BEAUMONT was born in Huddersfield in 1937. He studied music at University College, Cardiff, graduating in 1958 with First Class Honours and going on to take a Master's in 1961 and a Doctorate in 1972. He also took, in 1960, a performer's diploma on the oboe ( an instrument he played professionally until recently).

He was appointed to the staff of the Music Department of Bristol University in 1961, becoming Senior Lecturer in 1978 and Reader in Composition in 1994. He conducted Bristol Opera for three years until becoming the first conductor of Bristol Bach Choir in 1967, a position he held until 1978. Thereafter he regularly conducted the University's Symphony Orchestra and Choral Society, as well as the New Music Ensemble which he founded in 1981.

He retired in 2002, but continued with part-time teaching of composition for the following two years.

Adrian has been married to the soprano Janet Price since 1963 and several of his vocal pieces were specially written for her. Since 1977 he has written his own words as well. He has composed in all genres except opera. His hobbies are gardening and fell-walking.

ALISTAIR JONES received his musical training at the Royal Academy of Music and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University where he was Organ Scholar and a pupil of Sir David Willcocks. He began is teaching career as organist and member of the music department of Wellington College in Berkshire and in 1971 became Director of Music of Bristol Cathedral School. During his time in Bristol he became conductor of the Bristol Bach Choir, the Bristol Concert Orchestra and musical director of the Bristol Intimate Opera.

In 1984 Alistair left the teaching profession and joined the music industry. He joined Boosey and Hawkes and Roland (UK) in 1986 where, as a seminar leader and lecturer in the use of music technology in education, he gained an international reputation.

In 1984 he became conductor of The Chiswick Choir in London, a post in which they are already planning to celebrate his 25th anniversary!

As a composer he has written mostly for the voice with a number of Song Cycles to his credit, including “Fables”, “Five Holy Sonnets of John Donne”, “Visions of William Blake” and the Thomas Hardy cycle, “The Year’s Awakening”. Choral works include the cantata “Dies Irae”, an Oratorio “Carmen Paschale” and the recently premiered “Stabat Mater”. Recently piano works have been featured in recitals at St. George’s Bristol and the Louvre in Paris by Russian pianist Eduard Kunz. His new Piano Sonata is to be premiered by Eduard Kunz and broadcast on Radio 3 from the St. Magnus Festival in Orkney next summer.

Alistair continues his work in music education as Education Manger for Yamaha Kemble (UK), he is a member of the Executive of the Music Education Council and is Chair of the Gateway Sound Education Trust.

GLYN JENKINS conducted Bristol Bach Choir from 1982 until 1999.

Glyn was awarded an Organ Scholarship to St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1967 and as an undergraduate won several prizes. He remained at Cambridge as a research student working on performance conventions in baroque and early classical music and during this time conducted many performances of baroque music with the choir and orchestra of the Cambridge University Purcell Society.

In 1973 he was joint winner in the organ competition at the St Albans International Festival, and following a successful debut at the Royal Festival Hall, toured extensively as a recitalist both in this country and abroad.

In 1974 he was elected to a Research Fellowship at St Catharine's College and in 1979 moved to Bristol to join the staff at the University Music Department, where he is now a Senior Lecturer.

PETER LEECH was appointed conductor of Bristol Bach Choir in 1999. He is also currently Musical Director of Aylesbury Choral Society.

A native of Australia, where he established himself as one of that country's leading young conductors under the tutelage of Robert Rosen, Peter settled in the UK in 1996 and since then has continued to develop a formidable reputation as a choral technician and orchestral conductor in Britain and abroad. Amongst the many other ensembles he has directed in the UK are The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church Oxford, City of Oxford Choir, Chandos Chamber Choir (London), Esterhazy Chamber Choir and Orchestra, Bristol Philharmonic Orchestra, Frideswide Ensemble, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus, Yeovil Chamber Choir and Frome Festival Chorus.

Peter has prepared major works of the choral repertoire for leading international conductors such as Walter Weller, Marin Alsop, Nicholas Braithwaite and Frederic Chaslin, and also devotes considerable time to directing choral workshops, training days and educational projects.

In 2003 Peter won First Prize at the Mariele Ventre International Competition for Choral Conductors which has led to further engagements in Italy. His overseas guest appearances have included concerts, live broadcasts and recordings with Ensemble Eszterhaza (Melbourne), The Song Company (Sydney), New Holland Baroque (Adelaide), City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong and Coro di Euridice of Bologna. In 2005 Peter made an appearance at the Ravenna Festival, conducted the Bristol Bach Choir on tour in Prague, and gave further concerts with the Choir in Bologna. Peter is also an accomplished scholar, having recently completed a Ph.D in musicology from Anglia Polytechnic University and his choral compositions are also attracting considerable interest.

Find out more about him at his website or at

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