Saturday 23 March 2013, 7.30pm (Exeter Cathedral)
James MacMillan St John Passion
Conductor: Nigel Perrin
Exeter Festival Chorus will be joined by the City of Bath Bach Choir and Wellensian Consort.
Ticket Prices: Front Nave £22 (£20); Mid/Rear Nave £17 (£15); Side Aisles (unreserved) £12 (£10). Prices in brackets indicate concessions (students and schoolchildren).
On line bookings have now closed for this concert, but there will be tickets in all price bands available on the door.
Refund policy: we regret that no refunds can be given unless the concert is sold out.
Exeter Festival Chorus and the City of Bath Bach Choir are proud to be part of historic musical events in the South West in March 2013, with two ground-breaking concert performances of James MacMillan’s St John Passion.
Composed in 2007, and not yet performed outside the major concert centres because of the forces required and the technical difficulty of the piece, MacMillan’s brilliant St John Passion is being taken on by Exeter Festival Chorus and City of Bath Bach Choir, with the Wellensian Consort (2010 BBC Choir of the Year) taking the part of ‘narrator’. The orchestra is the Southern Sinfonia (leader Alexander Hohenthal) and baritone soloist Mark Stone will take the role of Christus – all under the baton of conductor Nigel Perrin. There will be two performances of this important contemporary work: Wells Cathedral on Saturday 16 March and Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 23 March.
Macmillan’s St John Passion is an intensely dramatic work, based on the telling of Christ’s Passion as related in the Gospel according to St John – the composer says that he chose this version of the story because he sees it as the most direct, with John being at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion. The narrative's traditional layout is preserved, with the Wellensian Consort taking the role usually allotted to a solo Evangelist unfolding the Gospel story.
As part of the pioneering mission to bring this work to a wider audience, the choirs, in partnership with Mulberry and supported by the Arts Council, are extending an invitation to schools and colleges in Somerset and Devon. Senior music students are invited not only to attend the concerts, but also to take part in two masterclass study days with the choirs, directed by Nigel Perrin. In all, a rich collaboration, to do justice to what will become an iconic work. This is an opportunity for musical learning and engagement not to be missed – for more details, click here.
The Scottish composer, James Macmillan, is probably the most significant composer of this generation. His musical language is flooded with influences from his Scottish heritage, Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, blended with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music.
The work is dedicated to and was premiered by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in the Barbican on 27 April 2008. It sets new standards in choral writing and, to quote Paul Spicer, is already viewed as a classic, a modern day War Requiem, a seminal work which will mark a very special place in the history of contemporary classical music. This work is a major achievement and a milestone in the development of the choral repertory. To follow in Bach’s footsteps in creating a work which shares a title with one of his great works rather than calling it something new and trendy shows another aspect of the fundamental nature of this work.
Nigel Perrin says performing this work will be “one of the most exciting and challenging moments of my whole career... a brilliant but seriously difficult piece, with a really dramatic, theatrical quality – there is almost a film score feel to this music.” For an idea of how members of EFC and the City of Bath Bach Choir are enjoying the challenge of working on this wonderful music, please click here to watch a YouTube film, with the choirs and Nigel Perrin in action.
Click here to listen to an interview with James MacMillan about his version of the St John Passion.