Monday 1 April 2019

MacMillan at 60: the Holy Week Festival at St John's Smith Square

Sr James MacMillan (Photo Hans van der Woerd)
Sr James MacMillan (Photo Hans van der Woerd)
The St John's Smith Square Holy Week Festival is becoming a welcome fixture in London's calendar, combining as it does both the concert and liturgical aspects of music for Holy Week. Returning for a third year, this year's festival runs from 14 April to 20 April 2019 and, curated in partnership with Tenebrae and Nigel Short, features concerts, late-night free liturgical events and workshops, all exploring the vast range of music for Holy Week from Renaissance polyphony to the contemporary, and a theme in this year's festival is the music of Sir James MacMillan who celebrates his 60th birthday this year. 

The BBC Singers are conducted by the composer in a selection of MacMillan's a cappella choral music, the Brodsky Quartet perform music by MacMillan alongside Haydn's Seven Last Words in a lovely counterpoint to the MacMillan's own Seven Last Words which is performed by  Tenebrae & the Britten Sinfonia. The Marian Consort join forces with Music Centre London for MacMillan's Miserere Mei performed alongside Allegri's famous setting of the same text, plus the London premiere of Gabriel Jackson's Stabat Mater alongside Palestrina's double choir setting of the text. Tom Herring and the young professional ensemble Sansara perform the music of Sir James MacMillan alongside that of his Nordic contemporaries, Knut Nystedt, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, as well as a piece by the ensemble's associate composer Oliver Tarney. The festival finishes with a concert from the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, conductor Graham Ross, in a programme of Lenten music including MacMillan's Miserere.

There are late-evening liturgical events (St John's is still a consecrated church), and on Maunday Thursday the service will include MacMillan's Tenebrae Responsories for Good Friday.

Full details from the St John's Smith Square website.

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