Invictus: a Passion

Goodall – Invictus: a Passion
Handel – Foundling Hospital Anthem
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Stephen Darlington, Mark Dobell, Kirsty Hopkins
Lanyer Ensemble, Oxford Baroque
St John’s, Smith Square. 25 May 2018

Invictus: A Passion was commissioned (at the suggestion of its composer Howard Goodhall) by the Choir of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas and their Director of Music and Fine Arts, Sid Davis. It was the second Goodall work to be commissioned by them and they gave the first performance on Palm Sunday 2018. This was its European premiere. The piece is described as “a contemporary reflection on the themes of the traditional Christian Passion story with particular attention to the role and perspective of women”. Interspersed with extracts from Æmelia Lanyer’s 1611 passion story Salve Deus Rex Judæorum (one of the first books by a female poet in the English language) are texts from “various periods of historic turmoil, written or inspired by women which eloquently portray humility in the face of tyranny”. These include Gethsemane by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Mary Magdalene and the Other Mary by Christina Georgina Rossetti and Slave Auction by Ellen Watkins Harper. Its themes include “persecution of the innocent, malevolent authority exerting itself against ideas that threaten and challenge, the redemptive power of love, and the resilience of the human spirit”.  Continue reading

London Festival of Baroque Music: Tabea Debus & European Union Baroque Orchestra

London Festival of Baroque Music
Tabea Debus, European Union Baroque Orchestra

WP_20160506_20_16_57_Pro_crop.jpgThe London Festival of Baroque is growing from strength to strength after its rebirth from its previous incarnation as the Lufthansa Festival. Shorn of the former funding stream, it has had to rebuild its financial stability. The increase in the number of this year’s events over last year is one sign of their success. One of the big advantages of the former sponsorship deal was that it enabled many non-UK groups to travel to London for the festival, so it is encouraging that such visits by musicians from abroad continue to be a feature of the festival. Also most encouraging is their focus on young musicians, with three concerts specifically devoted to them under the banner of ‘Future Baroque’. They also included a late-night concert by the young folk-inspired singer-songwriter, Olivia Chaney.

Unfortunately this year’s festival (13-19 May) clashed with my annual invitation to the Regensburg Tage Alter Musik festival, which takes Continue reading

European Union Baroque Orchestra: ‘A Taste of the Baroque’

European Union Baroque Orchestra: ‘A Taste of the Baroque’
Lars Ulrik Mortensen, director
St John’s, Smith Square, 3 December 2015

Muffat: Sonata No. 5 from Armonico Tributo
Biber: Sonata 10 and 4, from Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes
Marcello: Concerto for oboe in D minor
Telemann: Overture, Suite and Conclusion in D from Tafelmusik II

In the unlikely event of you ever feeling despondent about the future of music performance, or of the younger generation, an evening with the European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO) will soon restore your faith. This remarkable orchestra, formed in 1985, re-forms each year after intensive and educational, auditions held in the spring. They then meet several times during that year to rehearse and tour a series of programmes under a team of experienced ex-EUBO concertmasters and distinguished directors. This year’s season has been truncated because of a complicated bidding process for EU funding (which only partly covers EUBO’s costs). One of their partners in the newly formed ‘EUBO Mobile Baroque Academy’ is London’s St John’s, Smith Square concert hall. Continue reading