Last weekend I was involved in the second of this year’s Bach Vespers performances with the City Bach Collective. We were performing cantata BWV 166 ‘Wo gehest du hin?’, a succinct cantata with standout alto and tenor arias – and a special soprano chorale melody movement suspended over tumbling strings.
In addition we sang music by Schütz; we’d like to do more of this important predecessor of Bach’s in future. For the time being Bach Vespers continues to be held at St. Mary-at-Hill church in the City.
This Friday I am taking part in a lunchtime concert of cantatas and sonatas by composers of the German baroque. I am singing De profundis clamavi & Mein herz ist bereit by Nicolaus Bruhns and Salve coelestis pater & O Jesu dulcissime by Franz Tunder. There will be other music by Buxtehude. I’m am joining the Sweelinck Ensemble, Martin Knizia’s baroque ensemble who are visiting London for this concert and for a repeat performance at the Saxon Shore Early Music Festival the following evening (image above).
My second Mozart Requiem in as many weeks was at the popular central London venue of St. Martin in the Fields. Dietrich Begthe has been running the London Octave for almost 30 years and I was very happy to be invited to sing as the bass soloist for their Requiem performance alongside some familiar colleagues.
Photo: St. Paul’s Twitter
Just under a week ago I took part in a performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion at St. Paul’s Cathedral. As befits a building of this scale, the enlarged Cathedral choir were joined by the Cathedral’s Chorus for the choruses. The soprano arias were performed by boy choristers, and the ensemble was directed by Simon Johnson.
Last week I took part in a performance of the St. Matthew (or ‘Great’) Passion put on by the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory. The performance was given with boy trebles form the Schola singing not only the upper lines in the choruses but also the soprano and alto arias and ariosos, a serendipitous arrangement only ten days following the death of Nikolaus Harnoncourt who had pioneered this in his recordings of the Bach Cantatas for Teldec. You can see photos from the concert here.
Last Friday I ran a round table discussion for those responsible for social media in the various different concerns of the precincts of Southwell Minster. I have been advising in social media at the Southwell Music Festival since 2014 and I had been invited to chair this discussion in order to encourage and consolidate best practice among the other groups with links to the Festival.
It’s sometimes a little difficult to know where to begin with such discussions. I was aware that at least half a dozen of the 15 or so participants were already using the principal social platforms capably. Consequently, I started from a position of assuming some simple practice – though it emerged that one or two did not have any social media experience at all.
The key though is for all those who use social media – rather counterintuitively – to talk to one another before either day to day use or on a concerted campaign. From my perspective, the nature of social media means that listening to the experience of others is as valuable as trying to lecture on it and in this way I think the discussion was useful.
I was delighted to perform in my first Mozart Requiem as bass soloist for a long time last weekend. I was performing at the church of St Margaret, Lee, with the Blackheath Choir and St Paul’s Sinfonia under the direction of Patricia Williams.
I have begun the new year with a new concern. Following the departure of the Sweelinck Ensemble’s Martin Knizia in July last year, there has been some uncertainty regarding the Bach Vespers series at St Anne’s Lutheran Church. I and my colleagues who are now familiar with the event has returned at the invitation of the church to perform Bach Vespers once again under the title of our reformed ensemble, the City Bach Collective. With the great legacy of the work of both Peter Lea-Cox and Martin Knizia behind us and the mutual experience of the majority of the dozen-strong core ensemble, continuing the work of the group seemed the right thing to do. The City Bach Collective will perform without a dedicated director, with the leader, Hazel Brooks directing from the principal violin chair.
The first service of 2016 was cantata BWV 81 and the middle movement of cantata BWV 82a, Ich habe genug, for soprano and recorder. In addition we performed music by Scheidt and Schütz. It was a successful evening and we are encouraged that the Collective has the talent, tenacity and ambition to go on to do more Bach in the City of London throughout 2016 and beyond.