In the 2011 Brighton Festival (Sunday 22 May 2011), I took part in a performance of Jonathan Dove's piece, There Was A Child. The Brighton Festival Chorus, Brighton Festival Youth Choir and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra were conducted by Simon Halsey. The soloists were Joan Rodgers and Ben Johnson. The reviews were good: Latest 7, The Argus
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra then performed the work again back in Birmingham a few weeks later (Saturday 18 June 2011), this time with their own City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, and their CBSO Youth Chorus and Children's Chorus, and they were kind enough to invite some BFC tenors to join them for the performance. Six of us went along for the weekend, and had a great time. This time, Toby Spence replaced Ben Johnson as the tenor soloist, with Joan Rodgers once again the soprano. This performance once again received a very positive review: Birmingham Post
The CBSO wisely decided to record this concert - at this stage, there were no specific plans for a release, but it was felt that it was an important opportunity to record the work. A year later, and Signum Classics have released the recording, and it sounds pretty good! As I took part in the concert, I won't comment further however - so far, there's been one review from the Financial Times, which gave it 5 stars (you need to register with the FT to read this, but it's free).
The work's premiere was actually in Norwich on 2 May 2009, in the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, with the CBSO - it was in fact commissioned by Rosemary Pickering, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the CBSO. The piece was written as a celebration of the life of Rosemary Pickering's son, Robert, who died tragically aged 19 in a snorkelling accident.
You can find the recording at:
Dove, Jonathan. There Was A Child. Joan Rodgers, Toby Spence, CBSO Chorus, CBSO Youth Choir, CBSO Children's Choir, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Halsey. 2012. Compact Disc. Signum Classics SIGCD285.