St. John Passion, J.S. Bach

Saturday 2nd Feb 2013 at St Barnabas church

“A tour de force! Well, what can I say? It was amazing, wonderful, especially the second part. I really had not expected anything like that and I wish I could sing!”

It was indeed a memorable concert. A bitterly cold evening, the glorious setting of St. Barnabas Church, Bach’s great work in prospect, every seat in the church taken by an audience of over 450, and a real sense of excitement for us about the performance, not least the anticipation of singing with the wonderful Emma Kirkby.

In the event, all aspects of the promise were realised. Uplifted by the close direction of our conductor, Duncan Saunderson, the eloquence of the baroque orchestra and the mesmerising voice of Evangelist Chris Watson, the choir gave their all, to choruses and chorales. Emma Kirkby’s arias were spell-binding – and all the young soloists unquestionably contributed to the thrill of the performance. The choir was moved to be part of this performance and we were gratified by the torrent of tributes, oral and written, which arrived after the concert. Here are some of the written accolades:

“…we loved it…It was so accessible, beautifully sung (in English) and tightly conducted. I was greatly moved by the “Sleep well” at the end when the choir positively shone… really, I could see as well as hear it…every section was clearly heard separately and distinctly – not the fudge you often get…The enthusiasm of the choir was palpable, yet well under control. Most uplifting.”

“…the chorales (always a litmus test) sounded lovely and the energy in some of the crowd scenes was palpable…”

“The concert was fabulous, I so enjoyed it. I thought the choir were very disciplined and made a good sound. Emma Kirkby was wonderful …in fact all the soloists earned their pennies! …My companion loved it too. And yes, it WAS packed wasn’t it. Great for all of you who worked so hard on it, and well done Duncan.”

It was such a privilege for us to sing with Emma Kirkby and afterwards to receive her gracious comments. It was a night to remember for Summertown Choral Society:

“I was very impressed with the choir – not just the collective brainpower you’d expect! but also a sweet sound yet vigorous when needed; and the orchestra was as lovely as I knew these folk to be! Congratulations to you [Duncan] for what was a beautifully-gauged performance.”