Returning

Like many of you we have barely been ‘away’. But with the blanket restrictions on gathering for live performances being part of the Coronavirus pandemic protection guidelines, it feels as if we have indeed been forced apart for almost five months.

Now, with the news that the government has decided to allow socially-distanced indoor performance after a fashion from 15 August 2020, we feel that we can begin to think again about performing JS Bach (and other music from the German baroque) in and around the City of London. When and where is, as yet, a fragile thought – but we’ll let you know, when we do. Stay safe for now!

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!).