YORKSHIRE Bach Choir will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a special concert at St Michael le Belfrey, York, next Saturday night (February 9).

Forty vocal parts, one for each year, will combine when the choir members sing Tallis’s masterpiece Spem In Alium in a 7.30pm programme featuring music performed at the York choir’s first concert in February 1979.

Tallis’s haunting setting of the Lamentations, Taverner’s Western Wynde Mass and Schütz’s Meine Seele Erhebt Den Herren á 4 will be sung, as will a particularly celebratory piece: Bach’s joyous Jauchzet Dem Herrn Alle Welt.

"We’re excited as usual to be performing in the beautiful church of St Michael le Belfrey, which has had such a long and happy association with the choir over many years," says conductor Peter Seymour.

Among the choir's alumni is Joshua Ellicott , who sang with Yorkshire Bach Choir in the mid-1990s while a student at the University of York and now enjoys an international career as a tenor soloist.

Reflecting on what YBC has meant to him, he says: "Yorkshire Bach Choir and Peter Seymour were instrumental in my development as a professional musician. Without them both, I would not have had the opportunities early on in my career that I did have to sing solos with professional instrumentalists and singers and to perform repertoire to a high standard that I had not yet encountered."

When asked about the impact of the choir, he says: "It seems to me that YBC has been at the very heart of music-making within the city of York and further afield in Yorkshire. Its influence travels much further, however, through the great number of alumni who continue to make music across the world and who hold a special affection for YBC."

Matthew Brook, a bass-baritone regarded as one of the finest of his generation, is full of praise for Seymour and YBC too. ""Rehearsing and performing with Peter and the fabulous Yorkshire Bach Choir over the years has been a particular pleasure for me," he says.

"You always get a warm welcome and a group of singers and players that are totally committed to making great music. There is always something new to learn and try, and Peter’s great sense of fun and yet demand for full concentration makes for a positive arena to give your all. It always feels like coming home when I come out of York station."

Tickets for next Saturday's two-hour celebration of one of Yorkshire’s great musical institutions are on sale at £14, concessions £12, on 01904 658338, at ncem.co.uk or on the door.