Rhinegold Photo credit: Chris O'Donovan

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

St John’s Smith Square and Tenebrae announce Holy Week Festival 2018

9:39, 11th January 2018

The second Holy Week Festival will take place 26 March – 1 April at St John’s Smith Square, London.

Curated in partnership with Tenebrae, the festival will feature workshops, ticketed concerts and free late-night liturgical events exploring a vast range of sacred music in celebration of Holy Week.

Nigel Short and Tenebrae will perform a sequence of devotional settings and responses on Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which will be free for the public to attend.

The festival will also include opportunities to participate in a workshop with Tenebrae, a come and sing event featuring Handel’s Messiah, and performances from Ex Cathedra, Gabrieli, Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia, the Gesualdo Six, the Temple Church Choir and the Tallis Scholars.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Baltic states, programmes throughout the event will feature music by Ēriks Ešenvalds, Paweł Łukaszewski and Arvo Pärt, amongst other Baltic composers.

The event will conclude on 1 April 2018 with a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor with Gabrieli and Paul McCreesh.

Nigel Short, the festival’s artistic director, said: ‘There is such a wealth of soul-searching repertoire associated with this period in the Christian calendar and this festival is far from simply the usual Passion performance.

‘What is it about the music of Passiontide that has so inspired composers and tugs at the heart as much as it has been at the service of the Liturgy? Does music deal with angst, suffering and death better than the happier side of our human experience? If there is still a deep-seated need for this expressive side of our nature, then I hope that there is something for everyone this year – sacred and secular, a cappella and with instruments. I hope that this festival fulfils all your musical needs for the season.’

Richard Heason, director of St John’s Smith Square, said: ‘The Holy Week Festival celebrates so many different sides of music at Easter, with monumental choral masterpieces sitting alongside reflective and spiritual miniatures. We welcome some of the world’s leading exponents of choral music and yet also create opportunities for audiences and the community to participate.

‘St John’s will resound with differing approaches to the musical liturgy and we look forward to sharing these performances with audiences throughout Holy Week as we celebrate the music of Easter.’


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