Upcoming Concerts

Saturday 12 March 2022 - St John's Church, Wimbledon - 7 pm

JS Bach St John Passion

Academy Baroque Players

Nick Pritchard, Evangelist

Rowan Pierce, soprano

Hugh Cutting, counter-tenor

Anthony Gregory, tenor

Edward Grint, bass-baritone

James Newby, bass-baritone

Matthew Best -  conductor

Often considered among the crowning achievements of Western civilisation JS Bach’s setting of the Passion story (the betrayal, arrest, trial, torture and execution of Jesus) as told in the Gospel of St John is a truly monumental work.  Written by JS Bach for performance in Leipzig during Lent in 1724 the work gives Bach licence to explore extremes of human emotion fusing intensely dramatic choruses with the soothing balm of chorales, deeply personal solos with the driving narrative of the Evangelist.  

 

We will be joined for our performance early in Lent 2022 by the Academy Baroque Players and soloists Nick Pritchard, Rowan Pierce, Hugh Cutting, James Newby and Edward Grint.  Nick will be singing the role of the Evangelist - a role that he has performed with great distinction (indeed, he has been reviewed in the Guardian as being a “masterly Evangelist”) with the likes of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under John Butt and with the Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardiner.  We are delighted to welcome Rowan Pierce back to Wimbledon.  A firm favourite of ours, Rowan is a much-garlanded soprano (First Prize and Song Prize at the Grange Festival, Harewood Artist at the ENO, Rising Star of the OAE, Schubert Society Singer Prize).  Hugh Cutting is a singer to know.  Currently studying at the Royal College of Music’s International Opera Studio he has just been awarded first prize in the hugely prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Awards.  He already has tours with Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent and Stephen Layton’s Polyphony (amongst others) under his belt we are very excited to be bringing him to Wimbledon.  Anthony Gregory will be our tenor soloist.  Although early in his career he has already appeared at Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and on opera stages abroad his voice has been described as “disquietingly beautiful” in the Guardian.  The first our two bass soloists, Edward Grint has won prizes at the International Singing Competition for Baroque Opera, Pietro Antonio Cesti in Innsbruck, the London Handel Competition and the Clremont Ferrand competition.  James Newby may need no introduction as we have been fortunate to have worked with him several time in recent years.  James has secured a deserved reputation as among the very best young basses in Europe.  James won the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2016 and has also won the Wigmore Hall /Independent Opera Voice Fellowship and Glyndebourne’s prestigious John Christie Award.    

Saturday 25 June 2022 - Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon - 8 pm

Monteverdi Vespers

His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts

Academy Baroque Players

Soloists to include:

Hugo Hymas, tenor

Nick Pritchard, tenor

Alastair Ross, organ

Paula Chateauneuf, theorbo

Matthew Best -  conduc:tor

Monteverid’s Vespers of 1610 were written at a time of almost unimaginable change in Western music.  Opera was just then emerging as an art form and with it all manner of compositional innovation.  It is almost certain that Claudio Monteverdi (then employed by the Duke of Mantua) wished to better his position and felt that to do so he needed to demonstrate his mastery of all of the techniques of the day.  It appears that he therefore resolved to compose the hugely virtuosic Vespers as a vehicle in which these remarkable skills could be displayed to the then Pope to whom he presented the completed work in September 1610.  Remarkably there is no record of any performance of this work having been given at the time - or indeed at any time prior to the composer’s death in 1643 (certainly not as a single work).

 

The opulence, complexity and sheer scale of the Vespers were completely unprecedented at the time at which the work was written and even today its grandeur and the mastery of compositional technique allows the work to astonish.  The orchestration is rich and varied with virtuosic writing for numerous of the players as soloists.  The choir must divide in anything up to 10 vocal lines and sometimes as a double choir and the soloists simply must be specialists in order to do the work justice.

 

As such we are delighted to have engaged, amongst others, the tenors Hugo Hymas and Nick Pritchard along with strings from the Academy Baroque Players, His Majestys Sackbutts & Cornetts, the keyboardist Alastair Ross and theorbo player Paula Chaeteauneuf to ensure that this performance will be one to treasure.  We very much look forward to enjoying this dramatic, grand and glorious work in the impressive acoustic of Sacred Heart Church.

Our concerts

 

We are determined to ensure that our concerts are not just highly enjoyable musical occasions but also an integral part of community life.  They offer an opportunity to catch up with friends as well as make new ones; to hear familiar music and - hopefully - also some less familiar music that you will swiftly come to love.  They are also events for all ages; we believe very strongly that high quality musical organisations - particularly those with a strong community focus - have a responsibility to share their music with everyone, not just those for whom attending a classical music concert is a routine experience.  For that reason we always offer very affordable child tickets throughout our venues as well as affordable full price tickets.  We also take our work into schools and invite local schoolchildren and parents to witness our final rehearsals free of charge.  If you would like to support or take advantage of these opportunities please do get in touch.

Further concert plans

As yet unscheduled concert plans include performances of Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ, the completion of our cycle of the major Handel oratorios, motets by Bruckner and others, Bach's St Matthew Passion, further great English choral anthems and a series of new commissions.