Handel’s Messiah with Eclectic Voices

Scott Stroman directs Eclectic Voices and the City Bach Collective in the People’s Passion at Union Chapel, 2013

On 5 April we join Eclectic Voices & local choirs under the direction of our friend Scott Stroman to perform Handel’s Messiah, with the valued support of a far-sighted benefactor. The performance on 5 April at Highbury & Islington’s Union Chapel will be free for all to attend. Nonetheless, the costs are significant and we would all appreciate support in bringing this project to fruition. If you would like to contribute, then Eclectic Voices have set up a donation page which you can reach via citybachcollective.org.uk/PeoplesMessiah

Bach Vespers in London for 2020

As we approach the end of 2019, we have enjoyed looking back at some of the wonderful music we have performed during the year. We’re even more excited to have confirmed Bach Vespers in London for 2020 up until Easter!

On 26 January we will be performing BWV 156, Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe with its irresistible opening Sinfonia with solo oboe.

On 23 February the cantata will be BWV 159, Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem (right) with a central plaintive aria (Es ist volbrach) for bass and oboe that might be mistaken for that other famous Bass work, Ich habe genug. As ever there will be other music by J. S. Bach and his contemporaries in these services.

It is good to know that, with the support of our friends at St. Anne’s Lutheran Church, we are able to continue the tradition of Bach Vespers in London in 2020. We look forward to seeing you at either event, which are free to attend. In the meantime we hope you have a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Ronald T. Englund, 1929-2019

It was with considerable sadness that, at the previous service of Bach Vespers, we learned of the death of Rev’d Ronald T. Englund. The news had been passed to the Pastor of St. Anne’s Lutheran Church by the former Kantor, Peter Lea-Cox.

city bach collective
from a press clipping in the 1980s

None of us who perform in the City Bach Collective knew Rev’d Englund personally. Rather, we are aware of his importance in bringing J. S. Bach’s music in to church services – specifically Lutheran services – in the City of London. It was at his invitation that Peter Lea-Cox gave the first Bach Vespers in September 1982, from which the series as we now know it has continued, unbroken, for 37 years. It continues to be a liturgically and culturally significant legacy.

Rev’d Englund died in Falmouth, Massachusetts on 14 November. You can read a more complete obituary here. We would be glad of your recollection of his life and work: if you would like to, please write to us here at citybachcollective@gmail.com.

Final Bach Vespers of 2019

The Rev’d Eliza Zikmane, Pastor of St. Anne’s Lutheran Church, preaching at a service of Bach Vespers in 2016. Photo: Niki Gorick

The final Bach Vespers of the year in which we perform is on 24 November at 6.30pm. We look forward to performing J. S. Bach’s sacred cantata Nur jedem das Seine BWV 163, as well as other German baroque and Lutheran sacred music.

More bittersweet for us is the news that Eliza Zikmane, Pastor of St. Anne’s Lutheran Church and Dean of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain will be leaving St. Anne’s at the end of the year. Eliza has been a great supporter and advocate of the Bach Vespers series, the lynchpin of our association with the church in continuing this much loved and admired tradition of Bach performed in its Lutheran context in the City of London. We wish Eliza success in her new position in Riga (and we’re happy that she will be returning regularly to London!).

The City Bach Collective at the Tilford Bach Society

The City Bach Collective. Image: Joseph Ford Thompson Photography

Since our 40th anniversary concert in November 2016, supported by friends at the Tilford Bach Society, we have been planning to take some of the cantatas in our repertoire down to Surrey. The opportunity has now arrived. On 26 October we will take a programme of music familiar from the Bach Vespers series to Tilford, including J. S. Bach cantatas BWV 61, 84 and 166. All the details of the concert are available here on the TBS website. We hope that you can join us for an evening of concerted German baroque liturgical music!