Portsmouth Baroque Choir performs a wide repertoire from the Renaissance period to works of contemporary composers, including several written especially for the choir.
Particular highlights from the past include Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Magnificat and St John Passion, and Rachmaninov’s Vespers. As a small choir we look to perform works with reduced instrumental forces, and in recent years we have performed a number of Handel Chandos Anthems, Purcell Verse and Symphony anthems and early Mozart and Haydn Masses, with a significant number of choir members sharing solo duties. Concerts are held regularly in churches and cathedrals in Portsmouth and the surrounding district. The choir has also participated in the BBC’s ‘Sunday Half-Hour’, and performed live on local radio.
More recent concerts have included performances of music by Haydn (Salve Regina in E and Insanae et vanae curae) and Mozart (Ave Verum, Litaniae Lauretanae, Sancta Maria and Missa Brevis in D); choral works by Gerald Finzi and Zoltán Kodály; Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, with strings and harp; Haydn’s Seven Last Words and Hummel’s Mass in B flat. Handel’s Birthday Ode for Queen Anne and Vivaldi’s Gloria, Beatus Vir and Dixit Dominus were sung at a packed Waterlooville Music Festival concert in June 2017, and we repeated the programme a month later in Ryde.
In October 2017 we marked the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a concert of polychoral music with a period instrument group of cornett and sackbut players. In December 2017 we performed two of Bach’s Cantatas including No. 61, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland.
March 2018 saw a concert of music by Handel including two Chandos Anthems to commemorate 300 years since their composition and first performance. In June we performed Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year together with Rutter’s A Sprig of Thyme. In October we sang a programme of music by Parry including his Songs of Farewell to mark the centenary of his death, and our December concert featured Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit sur des Airs de Noël.
In March 2019 we performed two 18th-century works, Bononcini’s Stabat Mater and Mondonville’s De Profundis Clamavi, as well as Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridsen, and in July we performed Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Consort of Twelve, as part of the Festival of Chichester, to a large and appreciative audience. Our November concert included Ian Schofield’s Stream of Life, Humphrey Clucas’s Songs of Farewell and a repeat performance of Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year, and at Christmas we sang another work by Ian Schofield, Illuminare Jerusalem.
After being runner-up in 2005 and 2014, the choir was thrilled in 2019 to receive the Portsmouth News Guide Award for the Best Classical Act, for our performance of the Mass in B minor in July.
In October 2021 the choir returned to St. Mark’s Church, North End for our first concert since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic in March 2020. This concert was originally planned for October 2020, as part of the choir’s 40th anniversary season and in support of the church’s 50th anniversary. Like many other events both of these had to be delayed and so, instead of taking place near the end of the choir’s celebratory year, it became a start to it.