Bach : Six Motets BBC Singers, Academy of Ancient Music, Peter Dijkstra Milton Court Concert Hall,3 March 2023
This BBC Singers’ Milton Court performance of the traditional grouping of Bach’s Six Motets (BWV 225–230) was imaginative and thoughtful, notably in two specific aspects. With one exception, they were sung in reverse order of BWV numbers, that exception being Komm, Jesu, komm (BWV 229) which was sung in the middle of the cantata Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl. The concert will be broadcast on Wednesday 22 March on BBC Radio 3.
I am the World Choral and Organ Music for International Women’s Day BBC Singers, Grace Rossiter, Anna Lapwood Live from Temple ChurchandonBBC Radio 3 and iPlayer. 8 March 2022
As part of a series of events to mark International Women’s Day, the BBC Singers, directed by Grace Rossiter, presented a live broadcast of music by leading 21st Century women composers from the Temple Church in London. It included four world premieres, one of which was commissioned by the BBC for the occasion. Alongside the vocal works were pieces played by the organist Anna Lapwood from her own new anthology of commissioned organ pieces by female composers, aimed at younger organists.
BBC Proms: First Night BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers Dalia Stasevska, Daniel Hyde Royal Albert Hall, 30 July 2021
And so, after two years’ absence, only partially relieved by last year’s shortened and audience-free Proms season, here we sat, to let the sound of music creep in our ears. Dalia Stasevska, the Finnish Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and director of last years’ Last Night, opened this year’s Proms season with a well-conceived programme of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, Poulenc’s dramatic Organ Concerto, a newly commissioned work by Sir James MacMillan and Sibelius’s Second Symphony. It was a night to remember, for many reasons.
Prom 22: Rachmaninov, Shostakovich & Outi Tarkiainen
BBC Philharmonic, John Storgårds
Royal Albert Hall, 5 August 2019
Rachmaninov: Isle of the Dead
Outi Tarkiainen: Midnight Sun Variations BBC commission: world premiere
Shostakovich: Symphony No 11 ‘The Year 1905’
Pairing Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead with Shostakovich’s 1tth Symphony foretold an evening that wasn’t going to be a bundle of fun. The opening gloomy 5:8 rhythms of the boatman rowing a corpse to the Isle of the Dead, as memorably depicted in Arnold Böcklin’s painting Die Toteninsel, set the mood. This photo shows a much better and clearer version to that printed in the programme – there are at least six versions.
Prom 1. Janáček: Glagolitic Mass
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, BBC Singers
Royal Albert Hall, 19 July 2019
The 125th season of the BBC Proms celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of their founder-conductor, Sir Henry Wood, whose bust looks down on the orchestras and Prommers throughout the season. One of the threads through the Proms are the ‘Novelties’, Wood’s own description of various UK and world premieres that he conducted. Another theme is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. This opening concert (from the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and the BBC Singers, directed by Karina Canellakis) acknowledged both with a world premiere and one of Wood’s novelties together with a focus on Czech composers. As well as featuring a female composer, this was also the first time that a female conductor had opened the Proms, one of the seven women conductors this season. It was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and on BBC2 and BBC4, and is available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards. Continue reading →
The journey to the cross: Music for Maundy Thursday
The BBC Singers, Sir James MacMillan
St John’s, Smith Sq. 18 April 2019
MacMillan: Strathclyde Motets; Choral Sequence from the St John Passion Gesualdo: Responsories for Maundy Thursday
The BBC Singers invited the celebrated Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan to devise and conduct a programme of choral music for Maundy Thursday in celebration of his 60th birthday. MacMillan chose to contrast selections from his Strathclyde Motets with movements from Gesualdo’s Responsories for Maundy Thursday. It concluded with MacMillan’s dramatic Choral Sequence from the St John Passion. The Strathclyde Motets started as an initial commission for one motet for the Strathclyde University Chamber Choir. Between 2005 and 2010 it was expanded into the current 28 communion motets on Latin texts, intended for amateur choirs, but far from straightforward in the vocal techniques needed.
French Baroque music meets Indian Classical Dance
BBC Singers, Academy of Ancient Music, Sofi Jeannin
Sanskriti UK & Ankh Dance
Milton Court, 19 October 2018
Lully:Te Deum Rameau: In convertendo Dominus; extracts from Les Indes galantes, Les fêtes d’Hébé & Castor et Pollux
In what was a rather brave bit of programming for a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast, the BBC Singers and the Academy of Music, directed by Sofi Jeannin, the new Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, presented an evening of French Baroque music, the second half of which was accompanied by two contrasting forms of Indian dance. The first half was of liturgical pieces, starting with Lully’s jubilant 1677 setting of the TeDeum. This was first heard at Fontainebleau and later became the piece that led to Lully’s death after he stabbed himself in the foot with his conducting baton during Chapel Royal celebrations for the Sun King’s recovery from surgery – surgery that Lully decided, fatally, to refuse. No such calamity occurred here as Sofi Jeannin demonstrated her commendably straightforward style of conducting, her focus clearly on the music itself rather than on any sense of self-aggrandisement. She coped well with the complications of this particular occasion, which included a late start after an overrun of the previous Radio 3 show, and complicated coordination between dances, singers, instrumentalists, a BBC announcer and the paraphernalia of a live BBC broadcast. Continue reading →
BBC Proms: Reformation Day
Prom 47: Bach’s ‘Little Organ Book’ past and present
Prom 48: A Patchwork Passion
Prom 49: Bach’s St John Passion
Royal Albert Hall, 20 August 2017
Prom 47: Bach’s ‘Little Organ Book’ past and present
William Whitehead, Robert Quinney, organ
The BBC Proms’ acknowledgement of the anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation came with three concerts on Sunday 20 August, starting with a lunchtime organ recital featuring the premieres of three pieces from The Orgelbüchlein Project played by its founder/director, the organist William Whitehead. The programme opened and closed with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E flat (from the Clavierübung III, BWV 552), played by Robert Quinney (who also played Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata in A major (Op. 65/3)). It also included the fourth of Schumann’s Fugues on B-A-C-H and two of Bach’s own Orgelbüchlein chorale preludes played by William Whitehead and, just before the final Bach Fugue, Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s ‘Prelude to the Grand Organ Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach’: a duet for both organists. Continue reading →