Bach St Matthew Passion

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20th March 2016
Sun 11.00am

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Bach St Matthew Passion

J S Bach  St Matthew Passion (complete, in English)


This performance is dedicated to the memory of Sir David Willcocks, Musical Director of The Bach Choir 1960-1998.

Royal Festival Hall, London

Orchestra - Florilegium

Conductor - David Hill

Evangelist - Toby Spence

Christ - Matthew Best

Soprano - Sophie Bevan

Mezzo-soprano - Jennifer Johnston

Tenor - Nicky Spence

Baritone - Henk Neven

Concert Synopsis

The Bach Choir’s annual tradition of performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion in English dates back to 1930.  Today’s audiences continue to appreciate the relevance and immediacy of the performances.  Joining The Bach Choir is a ripieno choir of children drawn from schools in and around London.

Please note that there is a long lunch interval between Parts 1 and 2.  Part 2 begins at 2.15pm.

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Toby Spence credit Mitch Jenkins prog size

Toby Spence – Evangelist

Notes From the Composer / Conductor

We caught up with tenor Toby Spence, and asked him about the St Matthew Passion and singing in general.

What do you do when not singing?

My greatest pleasure is to break bread with friends. I also try to fit in a week of skiing every year and I enjoy travelling.


I have a passion for art and try to see as many exhibitions as I can wherever I am working. I enjoy cooking very much and I have a beautiful garden. Gardening is the best way to clear my mind when I need to.

Do singers socialise with other singers?

Sometimes. I have only a few friends who also happen to be singers but I have a strong friendship with them. The life of a singer is not an easy one and it is important we support each other.

What other career paths could you have gone down or  – or was singing the only option?

Singing was the most pleasurable option at the time I made my choice. If I could go all the way back and start again I would have worked a lot harder at school and given myself more options when the time came to make a decision. I may have ended up singing but I think I would have enjoyed graphic design or architecture.

Who has inspired you most so far in life and in music?

My mother.

What advice would you give to aspiring singers?

Prepare well and sing with your natural voice. Too many young singers try to sound older than their natural voice. If you treat your voice with kindness and patience it will grow into a beautiful instrument.

What place does The Bach Choir: St Matthew Passion hold for you in the tradition of choral music?

I used to go to hear The Bach Choir perform the St Matthew Passion every year at the Festival Hall from the age of 10 until I was a young adult. Need I say more?