Bach round the font

Visitors to Sheffield’s Anglican cathedral occasionally happen upon a rehearsal for that evening’s concert – but there’s an extra treat in store on Saturday 9 March 2019. Dr Simon Lindley will provide a short talk about Johann Sebastian Bach around Brian Hall’s wonderful stainless steel font, as part of Classical Sheffield’s third weekend festival.

The talk, from 6.15 to 6.45pm, will be free to festival pass holders, and follows an afternoon open rehearsal of the St John Passion for that evening’s 7.30pm concert by Sheffield Bach Choir.

“One of the themes of this year’s festival is Future Makers” explained Dr Lindley, “and I hope to persuade visitors that Bach was a future maker of the past – especially with his choral music. Opera was quite a new form in Bach’s time, but his Passions are amazingly dramatic and innovative, and there is no doubt that his music has had a huge influence on other composers – including, I’m sure, some of the young Sheffield composers who have written new works for the 2019 Classical Weekend festival.”

It is 50 years since Dr Lindley’s first involvement with the St John Passion when he played continuo in a performance at Westminster Abbey in 1969. He marked the occasion by meeting up with Sir Ivor Atkins grand-daughter Katherine O’Carroll in Leeds last month.

“Atkins, who was born 150 years ago, was the editor of the 1929 edition of Bach’s St John Passion which choirs, including ours, still use to this day.” said Simon. “He and Edward Elgar had collaborated on an edition of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 1911, and he also produced a new edition of the Brahms Requiem in English. It was wonderful to meet up with his grand-daughter on my anniversary to discuss how we might mark his.”

Bach’s St John Passion will be given by Sheffield Bach Choir at 7.30pm on Saturday 9 March in Sheffield Cathedral, with the National Festival Orchestra led by Sally Robinson, Alan Horsey on continuo and featuring tenor Stephen Liley and bass Thomas Hunt as Evangelist and Christ respectively. The open rehearsal will start at 1.30p (soloists only) and from 2.30 with the full choir and orchestra.

Tickets, available from www.sheffieldbachchoir or on the door, must be purchased separately rather than via Classical Sheffield, but there’s a £5 discount for festival pass holders. The talk at 6.15pm is free.

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