St John's Smith Square presents its 30th annual Christmas Festival. This season is particularly impressive, bringing togther many of the finest choirs and baroque ensembles in Europe.
First highlight, Lars Ulrik Mortensen directs the European Union Baroque Orchestras on Thursday with "Music fort Feassts and Banquets" Biber, Muffat Marcello and Telemann. Then a series of major choirs, starting with the City of London Choir, the Choir of Christ's College, Cambridge and the Choir of King's College, London. the Choir of Merton College Oxford, and the Choir of Clare College, Oxford,. For me,treats will include the Choir of Chrsit urch Oxford on 14/12 with a lovely programme of English carols, and even of an occasion, on 22/12, Stephen Layton leads the Choir of Trinity College, Cambrisge and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlighten ment in what promises to be a very fine Bach Mass in B Minor. Alas, it [s been sold out for ages.
Plenty of other treats, too. The Chapelle du Roi from Paris brings music from the Chapel Royal Choirs of 16th century England Spain (12/q2) and Siglo De Oro pre3sents an eclectic programme of English song, including works by Roderick Williams (as composer), Howells, Leighton., Warlock and Leighton (13/12) Jeffrey Skidmore conducts Ex Cathedra (15/12) and Ensemble Plus Ultra does Praetorius, Victoria and Byrd. Solomon's Knot returns to SJSS for the fifth year running with Schelle, Kuhnau and Bach (21/12) The Tallis Scholars and Peter Philips have a concert on 10/12. this being Christmas, there's no escaping Handel Messiahs, but really good Messiah reminds us why it is done so often and by so many, some more earnest than excellent. With Stephen Layton, Poilyphony and the OOrchestra of the Enlightenment, we can be sure of the hiughest standards, though. Soloits are Kathryn Watson, Iestyn Davies, Gwilym Bowen,and Neal Davies -no surprise that this has been sold out for ages, too ! The photo above shows Polyphony performing the Messiah at SJSS in recent years.
Celebrations contune into the New Year and culminate with Victoria O magnum mysterium (Mass and Motet) on nthe Feast of the Epiphany (6/1 Christmas and the Baroque are closely intertwined. But no-one needs to be religious to enjoy some of the most uplifting music in western civilization.
Original Content: Christmas at St John's Smith Square