International Baroque Players, dir. Daniel Hyde
Catherine Bott (soprano) | James Bowman (alto) | Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) | James Birchall (bass)
Venue: University Church of St Mary the Virgin, OX1 4BJ
Date: Saturday 4th May - 7:30PM
With Ensemble 45 (director: Will Dawes).
The Mass in B Minor is without doubt one of Bach’s most thrilling choral works. Interspersing effervescent choruses with sublime solo movements, it contains all that is exciting in eighteenth-century choral music.
The opening concert of the Festival brings two Oxford-based groups together for the first time, under the direction of Daniel Hyde (Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford), with a team of star soloists – including none other than James Bowman, one of the most distinguished singers to have emerged from Oxford as a practitioner of Early Music.
Described as a group that “looks set to become a force to be reckoned with on the world music scene”, the International Baroque Players are one of the most exciting young baroque orchestras around today. Winners of the 2009 Deutsche Bank Award for Performance, the group’s Pisendel recording was released last year to great critical acclaim.
Ensemble 45 brings together some of the city’s most talented lay clerks and young professional choral singers. The group has attracted a real following from Oxford audiences in the last few years, having presented performances of works including Brahms’ Requiem, Britten’s A Boy Was Born and AMDG and Victoria’s Officium Defunctorum to widespread acclaim.
Venue: St John the Evangelist, Iffley Road, OX4 1EH
Date: Sunday 5th May - 7:30PM
Tickets: Tickets £30/£20/£12
Fresh from their seventh tour of the United States, the award-winning vocal ensemble Stile Antico returns home to Oxford, to present a concert of sublime Renaissance polyphony. Ranging from meditations on Christ’s passion to settings of erotic texts from the Song of Songs, the varied programme showcases masterpieces by some of the finest composers of the Renaissance, both English and Continental, and also includes a piece written for the group by John McCabe in 2009.
Stile Antico is an ensemble of young British singers, now established as one of the most original and exciting new voices in its field. Working without a conductor, the singers rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, each contributing artistically to the musical result. Stile Antico‘s engagements have included the BBC Proms, Wigmore Hall and Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and their release Song of Songs won the 2009 Gramophone Award for Early Music and reached the top of the US Classical Chart.
“An ensemble of breathtaking freshness, vitality and balance” (New York Times)
The beautiful church of St John the Evangelist, Iffley Road is one of Oxford’s newest venues for the arts and music. For details on parking etc, click here
Bojan Čičić (violin) & Susanne Heinrich (viola da gamba)
Venue: St. Mary Magdalen Church, Magdalen Street, OX1 3AE
Date: Sunday 5th May - 3:30PM
Tickets: All tickets £10
Oxford residents and top class string players Bojan Čičić and Susanne Heinrich come together to perform a one-act, afternoon concert of beautiful music by J.S. Bach, for the unlikely yet effective combination of unaccompanied violin and viola da gamba. Combining solo works alongside duets, the pair will explore Bach’s lyricism and counterpoint at a focal level rarely appreciated, in the meditative setting of the Oxford city church of St Mary Magdalen.
“This is outstanding artistry…” (Early Music Magazine)
“Heinrich delivers a masterful performance, breathing life into aged material.” (BBC Review)
“Bojan Čičić (and his ensemble Suonar Cantando) put on a marvelous display of musical responsibility by treating this repertoire with the fire it deserves.” (Bachtrack)
Inventio 15 in B minor (BWV 786)
Inventio 7 in E minor (BWV 778)
Duetto IV in A minor (from Clavier-Übung III)
Suite V (BWV 1011)
Venue: The Queen’s College, Oxford, High Street, OX1 4AW
Date: Monday 6th May - 7:30PM, with an open rehearsal/lecture in the afternoon (time tbc)
“I also wish that we had as many songs as possible in the vernacular which the people could sing…but poets and musicians are are wanting among us, or not yet known, who could compose evangelical and spiritual songs, as St Paul calls them, worthy to be used in the church of God.”
The Reformation was already well underway before Martin Luther turned his attention to music. Nonetheless, it quickly became one of the defining features of the Lutheran Church, and J.S. Bach’s music is often seen as the culmination of the Lutheran musical tradition. However, numerous composers can be seen to have produced some incredibly beautiful music in the aftermath of Luther’s calls for Reformation, which laid the groundwork for Bach’s work. Oxford Baroque present a programme of music by composers including Heinrich Schütz, Johann Schein and J.S. Bach, united by their efforts at synthesizing an innovative approach to German vocal music. Ranging from the jubilant and exuberant to the deeply contemplative, this is a concert which will present some incredibly powerful music by both familiar and less well-known composers, to round off the Festival.
“Brimming with talent…” (BBC Radio 3)
“An exciting setup of young professional singers and players, Oxford Baroque is one ensemble to watch closely…” (Bachtrack)