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“I am delighted and privileged to welcome you to The Bach Choir’s new season of concerts. I hope you will agree that we have successfully put together a series of performances which showcase new and less-frequently performed works alongside some the best-loved staples of the choral repertoire.
Highlights for me will be our celebration of the life and music of the late John Tavener, including the UK premiere of one of the last works he composed; our performance in February of Carmina Burana with The Young Singers, who made their debut with The Bach Choir so successfully last June; and Mendelssohn’s mighty oratorio Elijah, in which I am hugely proud for us to be working with baritone Simon Keenlyside. I do hope that you will find something to tempt you!’
On 25 November 2014, in what would have been the composer’s 70th birthday month, The Bach Choir celebrates the life of the late Sir John Tavener (1944-2013) in a programme which includes the European premiere of O where, tell me where?
Commissioned by The Bach Choir, the setting of three Scottish folk songs is scored for tubular bells and chorus and was one of the last works Tavener completed before his death in 2013. The Bach Choir gave the world premiere of the work in Shanghai in April 2014, as part of its two-week tour of China and Hong Kong.
Two of Tavener’s most popular works – The Protecting Veil, with cellist Raphael Wallfisch, and Song for Athene – also feature. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas joins the Choir as soloist in Tavener’s beautiful Requiem. It marks a return to the work for Manahan Thomas, who sang in the world premiere of the piece at Liverpool‘s Metropolitan Cathedral in 2008 and subsequent world premiere recording with the city’s philharmonic orchestra.
Other star names include baritone Simon Keenlyside singing the role of Elijah in Mendelssohn’s eponymous oratorio (Royal Festival Hall, Sunday 7 June 2015). Britain’s countertenor of the moment Iestyn Davies features in the Choir’s traditional performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 29 March 2015.
The Young Singers – a partnership with London’s Tri-Borough Music Hub – is a talented ensemble, formed of schoolchildren from inner London schools, many of whom have participated in The Bach Choir’s extensive Outreach programme. The Young Singers make their appearance on the Royal Festival Hall stage in Orff’s choral epic Carmina Burana, performed with Kodály’s contrasting Missa Brevis (4 February 2015).
Around 200 children, who will be taking part in The Bach Choir’s Outreach workshops throughout the coming season, will join the Choir at St John’s Smith Square on 19 June 2015 in Mr Lear, Nonsense and Rhyme, a joyous rediscovery of words and limericks. The concert also features a surprise appearance from one of the country’s leading writers, whose identity will be revealed nearer the time!
The season is complemented by two of The Bach Choir’s hugely popular ‘Come and Sing’ days. Music director David Hill leads these Saturday choral training rehearsals and performances at St Sepulchre Without Newgate in the heart of the City of London: Carmina Burana (11 October 2014) and Verdi’s dramatic Requiem (9 May 2015).
‘Our 2014-15 season represents one of our most wide-ranging, ambitious and musically rewarding ever.’ David Hill concludes. ‘It’s a showcase of the best of British composers and artists as well as a tour through some of the greatest European choral works.’