The name Portsmouth Baroque Choir was adopted on 9th February 1981
The choir had previously been known as Drayton Choral Society, originally formed of members of Drayton Methodist Church. We now rehearse in Portsmouth and attract members from all over southern Hampshire and West Sussex.
Portsmouth Baroque Choir’s repertoire, as its name implies, centres firstly around works from the 17th and 18th centuries. Our most ambitious concert of recent years, featuring J S Bach’s towering Mass in B minor, was performed to a large and appreciative audience in the Chichester Festival in 2019, and won us the Portsmouth News Guide Award for the Best Classical Act.
We have sung several other works by Bach, including the Magnificat and the St John Passion, besides cantatas and motets. Other Baroque composers regularly performed are Vivaldi (including the Gloria and Dixit Dominus), Purcell (including verse and symphony anthems), and especially Handel. A concert in March 2018, for instance, included two of Handel’s Chandos Anthems to commemorate 300 years since their composition and first performance.
The choir’s repertoire also goes back to the Renaissance period and forward to the present day. From the later 18th and 19th centuries we have performed Masses and other works by Haydn and Mozart, including Haydn’s Creation and Seven Last Words from the Cross, and Mozart’s Requiem and Litaniae Lauretanae. From the 20th century we have sung works by Benjamin Britten, Zoltán Kodály and Gerald Finzi. We also include in our programming works by living composers like John Rutter, Morton Lauridsen, Humphrey Clucas and Jonathan Dove; besides others specially written for the choir by, for instance, our President Ian Schofield.
Occasionally we have joined with other choirs, combining in 2013 with both the Emsworth-based Renaissance Choir and Portsmouth Cathedral Choir to perform Thomas Tallis’s extraordinary 40-part motet Spem in Alium.
Anniversaries and commemorations have suggested other concerts. In 2017 we marked the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a concert of polychoral music supported by a period instrument group of cornett and sackbut players. In the following year we celebrated the centenary of Hubert Parry’s death in a concert entirely devoted to his work, including his late masterpiece, the Songs of Farewell.