Adrian Horsewood

Up & Coming: Amici Voices

9:00, 22nd March 2017

Amici Voices started working together in 2012, performing a Bach St Matthew or St John Passion and Christmas Oratorio every year while undergraduates at Cambridge. Since graduating, they have extended their usual pattern to explore Bach’s smaller scale vocal output, with a programme of Lenten cantatas. Now the group has called upon the fundraising methods of the 18th-century to finance their second CD: with more than half the money needed already donated by a benefactor, the group is inviting supporters to be part of the project.

Helen Charlston  Photo: Ben McKee
Helen Charlston
Photo: Ben McKee

‘Individual subscriptions were commonly used to raise funds for concerts and publications,’ says mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston. ‘Now this has been revived in recent times to fund CD recordings and seemed the perfect way to involve our growing number of supporters and audience members in this recording project.’ A subscription to the Bach recording project costs £50 and includes two copies of the final CD and the donor’s name in the programme.

‘It’s out of our early work together, along with a programme of motets by J.S. and J.C. Bach that this recording project has grown,’ says Charlston.

The CD includes Actus Tragicus (BWV 106), one of Bach’s earliest cantatas, which traces the progress of the Christian soul, and is paired with ‘Himmelskönig, sei willkommen’ (BWV 182), a triumphal depiction of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem and subsequent Passion. The moods of both cantatas are drawn together by the motet ‘Komm, Jesu, komm’, which, says Charlston, ‘beautifully demonstrates the personal exploration of Christian faith which so readily permeates Bach’s vocal works.’

At its core, Amici Voices is a consort group of around eight singers but it also gives performances involving all or a few of the singers. Its initial aims were to approach the largescale works of Bach as a group of soloists, familiar with each other’s voices and used to working together. ‘The collaboration of players with such established and successful careers, with us very much at the start of our careers, has always been the most exciting thing about Amici Voices,’ says Charlston junior. ‘It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to work alongside and develop musical relationships with players who really know their craft.’

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