Rhinegold Photo credit: Nick Rutter
The Tallis Scholars perform a programme of seasonal polyphony at the St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival

Josephine Miles

St John’s Smith Square announces Christmas Festival

5:47, 9th November 2020

St John’s Smith Square has announced its 35th Christmas Festival.

The event will take place in the London church from 10-23 December in front of live audiences. All concerts will operate with full Covid safety measures and social distancing in place. Several concerts will be repeated on the same day to allow as many people as possible to experience the musical festivities.

Choirs featured in the festival include the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, conducted by Graham Ross, in a programme to include Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols (12 Dec); The Tallis Scholars and Peter Phillips in works by Lassus, Palestrina, Tallis and Josquin (18 Dec); and a specially devised sequence from The Gesualdo Six (13 Dec). Also appearing are the London Choral Sinfonia, Ex Cathedra, the City of London Choir and Koor. For the festival finale, Stephen Layton will direct Polyphony (23 Dec).

Non-choral concerts feature two monumental reflections of faith and the nativity by Olivier Messiaen: pianist Rolf Hind performs Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (10 Dec); and David Titterington performs La Nativité du Seigneur on the church’s Klais organ (14 Dec).

All the events in the Christmas Festival will be streamed at christmasfestivallondon.com along with a range of specially created digital programmes from groups such as the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Richard Heason, director of St John’s Smith Square, commented: ‘Christmas is always such a highlight in the musical calendar, and although this year we all face enormous and unprecedented challenges, we hope that our 35th Christmas Festival can bring peace and joy to people in these difficult times, whether attending in person or catching up online. Music is so important for so many people, bringing fulfilment to their lives. We may not be able to celebrate with family and friends in the same ways as usual this year, but we can all take comfort and strength from the force of music.’

SJSS have invited audiences to book with the confidence that, should circumstances prevent concerts from going ahead, full refunds will be provided. 

Visit sjss.org.uk for more information

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