Friday 3 January 2020

Holy Week Festival at St John's Smith Square

Easter 2020 sees the Holy Week Festival returning to St John's Smith Square, where it is curated in partnership with Nigel Short and Tenebrae. Running from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday (5 to 12 April 2020), this year's festival features performances from Musica Secreta, the King's Singers, Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Tallis Scholars, Tenebrae, the Choir of Merton College and Florilegium, Armonico Consort, and Siglo de Oro.

Musica Secreta will give the first London performance of Laurie Stras' new complete version of Antoine Brumel's Lamentation [see my review of their disc], and both of Bach's Passions feature in the festival with Benjamin Nicholas conducting the choir of Merton College and Florilegium in the St Matthew Passion with James Oxley as the Evangelist, Giles Underwood as Christus, and Stephen Layton directing Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Bach's St John Passion with Nick Pritchard as the Evangelist and Neal Davies as Christus, plus Bach's Mass in B Minor with Christopher Monks conducting the Armonico Consort and soloists including Elin Manahan Thomas.

Siglo de Oro will celebrate Holy Week in Hamburg with music by Hieronymous Praetorius, the Tallis Scholars perform Victoria's Responsories for Tenebrae, Royal Holloway Choir perform two settings of the Crucifixus by Lotti alongside settings by Kenneth Leighton and Geoffrey Gordon, and Tenebrae give two concerts including one with saxophonist Christian Forshaw where he joins the choir for new versions of music by Tallis and Gibbons.

In addition to the concerts there are three late-night liturgical events, with Tenebrae performing Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and lay clerks from Westminster Cathedral performing Victoria's Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday. Tenebrae will be running a workshop on music by Gibbons, Bach and Bruckner. Siglo de Oro's opening concert of the festival will be preceded by a guided meditation led by Triyoga teacher Chris Miller, and there is also a panel discussion on music and lamentation, The neuroscience, theology, history and art of behind music and grief.

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

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