In 1947 while the German city of Bonn was still in ruins, its British military administrators sought a partnership with a British city which would support its reconstruction and promote peace and understanding with its citizens. Oxford was enthusiastic and a link with Bonn began which continues to this day. Initially visits between the cities were largely limited to civic delegations but at the end of the 1960s Bonn, by then capital of West Germany, started to expand this exchange to include other organisations and in 1971 held its first ‘Oxford week in Bonn’. Oxford reciprocated with ‘Bonn week’ which alternated every two years with the ‘Oxfordwoche’ in Bonn.Continue Reading
How to obtain good orchestral accompaniments for concerts is always a problem for amateur choirs with limited funds. In its early days, the Oxford Harmonic Society, as it was named from June 1924, often had to make use of small groups of local amateurs or just use piano or organ accompaniment. But on several occasions the choir was able to sing with the well-known London professional symphony orchestras.Continue Reading
Oxford Harmonic Society put on its first peacetime performance of Messiah in November 1945. Isobel Baillie, who had been highly praised in the first 1943 performance (see our May post), did not take part, but she was to feature in nine further performances until 1955, cementing the association with the Society begun in 1932 (see our April post). She almost always got very good reviews:
The better known arias met with a deeply sympathetic response from the audience, especially “I know that my Redeemer liveth” beautifully given by Miss Baillie. (November 1949)
Isobel Baillie demonstrated once more how easily and delightfully she masters the soprano part. (December 1949)Continue Reading
After the unexpected and overwhelming success of the Harmonic’s first performance of Messiah in 1943 it soon became an annual event for the choir and ‘an Oxford “occasion” for which the Society was best known’. The 1943 performances were in Lent but thereafter it was usually performed in the run-up to Christmas in the Town Hall on Sunday afternoons with ‘Tea and Refreshments obtainable in the long interval’.