Cranbrook Choral Society



Autumn Concert – SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2017 – Brahms: German Requiem (in German)

7.30 pm, St Dunstan’s Cranbrook. 

Brahms German Requiem DL Leaflet 2017 (1)

Please come and join us. St Dunstan’s sits in the middle of historic Cranbrook. There is plenty of parking available behind the church and nearby ,and tickets can be purchased on the door.


In contrast to the traditional Roman Catholic Requiem Mass with its Latin text and prayers for the dead, Brahms took passages from the German Lutheran Bible which offered comfort to the living and from its first performance in Vienna in 1867 Brahms’ ‘German Requiem’ has been the subject of much controversy. Even the conditions surrounding the composer’s choice of the Requiem form have sparked numerous debates. On a musical level, the text has been praised, attacked, accepted, and re-evaluated in a circular, cyclical progression. The only constant element of the Requiem’s reception that has remained in any way constant is its popularity in concert performances.

As with any such masterpiece, much study has been devoted to reconstructing the process by which Brahms came to produce the ‘German Requiem’. It appears, by all accounts, that the idea for the piece was already well-conceived by April of 1865 when Brahms mentioned his plans in letters to Clara Schumann. He seemed to have had the basic structure of the work clearly in mind and apparently had already decided on the individual texts from the Luther Bible as well. Some say it was inspired by the death of the composer’s mother in 1865, and this date does coincide with the letters written to Clara Schumann. Others have noted that Brahms was greatly affected by the death of his friend and benefactor Robert Schumann and considered, within months of his death in 1856, composing some sort of musical memorial to him. It seems likely that there were several motivating factors for the Requiem and that both his mother’s and Schumann’s death were a stimulus to the completion of existing ideas.

On numerous occasions Brahms was heard to insist that his Requiem was intended ‘for all humanity’. Despite problems with the first performances, concerns as to its suitability in a concert hall, and criticism from other composers, including Wagner, critical opposition to the Requiem had mostly disappeared by the end of the 19th century and the work had been accepted not only into the concert hall repertoire but was receiving increasingly favourable critical and analytical attention, both within Germany and abroad.

Today Brahms’ masterpiece is regularly performed by Choral Societies and is much loved by audiences around the world.

We have some marvelous soloists joining us for this performance, please see their details below:


Camilla is a graduate of Durham University, where she studied Music. Her formative years were spent as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral where she was Precentor’s Chorister in her final year. Camilla will be starting a Masters in Vocal Studies at Royal College of Music in September under the tutelage of Alison Wells.

Camilla was selected to be a member of the inaugural Genesis Sixteen and subsequently has performed regularly with The Sixteen, including performances in the ensemble’s Choral Pilgrimages and tours to Australia, South Korea and much of Europe. She is a founder member of the vocal ensemble Eo Nomine who are current members of Aldeburgh Music’s Open Space residency. Camilla also performs and tours regularly with various ensembles, including, Alamire, Tenebrae, Britten Sinfonia Voices, Contrapunctus, Gabrieli Consort, The New London Consort, Eric Whitacre Singers and Ora and holds a soprano position in the Choir of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London.


Camilla is in high demand as a soloist singing in many performances of oratorio and early opera. Highlights include Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges with Samling Academy at The Sage Gateshead, First Damigella in Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero (Brighton Early Music Festival, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3), 1st Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (The English Concert/Harry Bicket), Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Semele in Handel’s Semele, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Monteverdi’s Vespers, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Nun Komm (BWV 61), Wachet Auf (BWV 140), St Matthew Passion, St John Passion (alongside Roderick Williams as Christ) and Will Todd’s Gala and Gloria recorded live for Durham Choral Societies’ recent CD.

Recent credits include a role in All the Angels, a new production telling the story of the first performance of Handel’s Messiah, which was staged at the Sam Wannamker theatre at Shakespeare’s globe from December 2016 – February 2017.


Francis Brett began singing at the age of eight as a Quirister at Winchester College. He was a music scholar at the same school before winning a Choral Scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge where he was taught by Roderick Earle and read for a music degree. He studied as a postgraduate baritone at the Royal College of Music with Stephen Roberts and then for several years with Susan McCulloch. He held the post of Lay Vicar in the choir of Westminster Abbey for eight years before turning freelance.

Francis has worked as a soloist with conductors such as Essa Pekka Salonen, Andrew Litton,Trevor Pinnock, Richard Hickox, Vladimir Yurowski and Edward Gardner. International solo work has taken him to Australia, Poland and the USA and he has taken part in masterclasses with Wolfgang Holzmaier, Sarah Walker, Philip Langridge and Catherine Wyn-Rogers.

As a soloist, Francis has performed the major works of Oratorio throughout the UK. These include most recently Haydn Creation in King’s College Chapel under Edward Gardner, Verdi Requiem in St Mary’s Nottingham, Brahms Requiem in St John’s Smith Square and Bach B minor Mass with I Fagiolini on the Southbank. He sang the role of Schlendrian in Bach’s Coffee Cantatawith the Little Baroque Company in the Brighton Early Music Festival and his performance of RVW Fantasia on Christmas Carols was broadcast live on Classic FM on Christmas Day. Solo recordings include Stainer Crucifixion, Elgar Great is the Lord and Pitts Jerusalem both on Hyperion and Greensleeves with the Armonico Consort on Signum Classics. In recital he has performed Schubert Winterreise at Benslow Music Halls, RVW Songs of Travel in St Brides Fleet St, Meirion Williams songs in Welsh in Llandybie, RVW Five Mystical Songs in Ramsey as well as recitals in the Handel House Museum and Temple Church.

Francis sang the role of Pontius Pilate in RVW Pilgrim’s Progress at Sadlers Wells for Hickox. He has worked with the chorus of ENO, ROH and Opera Holland Park and has taken part in numerous recordings and concert performances with Opera Rara and Chandos Opera in English. He has sung  opera galas in Belvoir Castle and Kelham Hall, Newark.

He works regularly with the UK’s leading period ensembles such as the Sixteen, King’s Consort, Choir of the Enlightenment, I Fagiolini and the BBC Singers. He is a founder member of Britten Sinfonia Voices and Philharmonia Voices. With these ensembles he has toured to USA, Mexico, Australia, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa as well as throughout Europe.

An increasing interest in contemporary music has seen Francis work with EXAUDI vocal ensemble, most recently as baritone soloist in the world premiere of Finnissey Remembrance Day, Mark Simpson’s The Immortal in the Manchester International Festival and performances of Pesson Cantatas in Germany and Paris.


Christmas Concert – 16 December 2017, St Dunstan’s, Cranbrook. 6.30pm. Free entry, retiring collection. Mulled wine.

Spring Concert 2018 – Handel: Alexander’s Feast (in English)

17 November 2018 – WW1 Armistice Centenary Concert in collaboration with another choral society – TBA

Our most recent concerts:

Summer Concert – An evening of wonderful light music accompanied by the choirs of Colliers Green Primary School and  Marlborough House School, with magnificent solo performances including  BBC Chorister of the Year 2016 Edward Hyde.

 Spring Concert – 29 April 2017 – Rutter: Gloria – Cranbrook St Dunstans 7.30pm

This was a highly successful evening with a fabulous brass and organ orchestra.

Haydn: The Seasons  19 November 2016 : Cranbrook St Dunstans 7.30pm


The photos below were taken at the afternoon rehearsal prior to our November concert. We spend the Saturday afternoon before a concert running through with orchestra and soloists. It’s an exciting and buzzy time before we all get ‘glammed up’ for the evening event.






Please click on the link to view all past CDCS concerts.