Swansea Bach Choir was formed by John Hugh Thomas in 1965 with the specific aim of presenting the very best choral works from the past five centuries to as wide a public as possible and in as professional and authentic a manner as possible. The choir performs regularly throughout the year, blending sacred and classic choral works with contemporary compositions, under the leadership of Greg Hallam. John Hugh remains actively involved as Honorary President. In 2023, the choir announced Elin Manahan Thomas as our patron.
Patron: Elin Manahan Thomas
"It’s an honour to be Patron of the choir which sparked my passion for choral singing, and set me on a career path I could never have imagined. I have had the huge pleasure of being every side of the stage with Swansea Bach, from a chorister with the inimitable John Hugh, to a soloist for Greg, to a delighted audience member – and wherever you sit in a Swansea Bach Choir concert, you can’t fail to be amazed and inspired by the depth of musical knowledge, the scale and breadth of the repertoire and the excellence of the music-making. Add to this the camaraderie, the wonderful community of musicianship and friendship, and the extraordinary commitment to bringing performances alive for audiences of all ages, and you have the perfect recipe for a choir that stands way out from the crowd. Approaching 60 years is a worthy milestone to commemorate, and gives us an excellent reason to celebrate. Llongyfarchiadau i bawb, a diolch am ddegawdau o ysbrydoliaeth a cherddoriaeth i’w cofio. Ymlaen!"
The choir is renowned for its performances of Baroque music, in particular the major works of Bach. Its performance of the Matthäus-Passion, given with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, was the first time this great masterpiece had been heard in Wales accompanied by a period orchestra. Other such 'firsts' include performances of Bach's Johannes-Passion and Mass in B Minor, Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, Purcell's King Arthur, Messiah, and several of the late masses of Haydn, all accompanied by London-based period orchestras.
At the other end of the historical spectrum the choir's performance of the Rachmaninov Vespers, the first by a Welsh choir, was highly acclaimed. It has also performed many twentieth century works, including major compositions by Pizzetti, Frank Martin, Howells, Britten, Duruflé and works by several Welsh composers.