Thursday, 18 August 2022

Choral singers enjoy Bach workshop

MORE than 150 singers met at St Mary’s in Henley last Saturday to enjoy a day working on the Bach

MORE than 150 singers met at St Mary’s in Henley last Saturday to enjoy a day working on the Bach St John Passion, under 23-year old musical director of Henley Choral Society, Benjamin Goodson.

Henley Choral Society chairman Susan Edwards said, “The workshop had two purposes - to prepare the choral society for our own St John Passion performance at St Mary’s on March 14 and to welcome fellow singers to join us for the day in Henley. We had a fantastic turnout of singers from nearby choirs, from London and as far away as Lancashire.“

Gwenda McInnes, secretary of South Bucks Choral Society, whose members attended, said, “Viewing the work through the observations of another conductor gave us a deeper understanding.“

Mr Goodson said, “The choir plays a vital part in the St John Passion. It’s very important that singers understand their role in each part of the narrative. In the beautiful chorales the choir should be singing as one voice. But in the choruses their role is very varied; one minute they are commenting on a point of law, the next they are a rabble baying for crucifixion, they next they are the soldiers dividing the spoils.“

Tenor Will Balkwill sang the role of the Evangelist to help singers experience the narrative of the work in a rehearsal environment, with Henley Choral Society’s regular accompanist David Smith also in attendance.

Mrs McInnes said, “We were so lucky to be accompanied by Henley Choral Society’s wonderful pianist and also to benefit from having a soloist present.“

Mrs Edwards said, ‘The workshop was an excellent preparation for the St John Passion concert at St Mary’s. Joining us will be tenor Nicholas Mulroy as the Evangelist, and Joshua Ellicott, who sang tenor arias in last year’s BBC Proms performance of this work.

“The orchestra comprises some of the finest baroque players in the country led by renowned violinist Bojan Cicic. We are advising Henley’s music-lovers to book early - recent concerts have been sold out and you don’t want to miss this.“

Bach St John Passion will be performed at St Mary’s in Henley on Saturday, March 14 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £18 (£5 under-18s). Call Jan French on (01491) 572795 or buy at Gorvett & Stone, 28 Duke Street, Henley.

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