Past Performances

Musica Sacra Italiana

Sat, 8 Feb 2020

From renaissance polyphony to the romantics, our concert brings you some of the most beautiful and inspiring church music from Italy.

Together with wonderful pieces by Monteverdi and Palestrina, we have work by the lesser known Lodovico Viadana and religious works b Rossini and Verdi, bot beetter known for their operas.  Verdi's Ave Maria is an amazing and unexpected piece, written in response to a challenge.  If Schütz comes as a surprise in a concert of Italian music, he studied under Gabriele and Monteverdi in Venice and helped to introduce the Italian baroque style to Germany.

Brahms - Ein Deutsches Requiem

Sat, 2 Nov 2019
Brahm's wonderful German Requiem is an incredibly human, spiritually comforting work written not as a mass for the dead but as consolation for the living who mourn them.  Dark and sombre passages contrast with lyrical and tender moments and each of the seven movements ends in a spirit of optimism.  It is a joy to sing and to listen to.

Also in the programme are five beautiful motets by Heinrich Schütz, some of them setting the same texts that Brahms selected from Luther's translation of the Bible.

Music Director: David Young
Soprano: Hilary Cronin
Baritone: Dominic Sedgwick
Orchestra: London Oratorio Players

Solstice - Summer music from Britain and the Baltics

Sat, 22 Jun 2019

Join Reading Bach Choir for a choral celebration of the SUMMER SOLSTICE! including Tormis' lively and unusual St John’s Day Songs and works by Britten, Dove, Harvey, Einfelde, Vasks, Ešenvalds  and Rautavaara. 


Svyati - Music for choir and cello

Sat, 6 Apr 2019
Svyati - a concert of powerful and moving contemporary works for cello and choir named for John Tavener's piece which concludes the programme.  Two pieces from Knut Nystedt and one by Pablo Casals are combined with one of Bach's most expressive motets, Jesu meine Freude, and three renaissance gems from William Byrd, Thomas Tallis and Carlo Gesualdo.  

Music Director: David Young
Cello: Stephanie Tress

Choral Music from Poland

Sat, 2 Feb 2019
This concert of Polish choral music brings together sacred music ranging from the early 18th century Gorczacki, to living composers Lukaszewski and Roxanna Panufnik. Alongside these are a wonderful  Magnificat by Arvo Pärt (from nearby Estonia) and the fascinating folk song settings from Kurpie.  This forested, formerly isolated, province of north-eastern Poland has its own highly individual folk traditions and music. Szymanowski’s Six Songs from Kurpie (1929) and Górecki’s Five Kurpian songs (1999) were both inspired by a famous 1928 collection of over 1000 songs.

Grzegorz Gorczycki: Missa Paschalis
Pawel Lukazewski: Nunc dimitis
Pawel Lukazewski :Ave Maria
Karol Szymanowski: Six songs from Kurpie
Henryk Gorecki: Five Kurpian songs
Roxanna Panufnik: Kyrie after Byrd
Arvo Pärt: Magnificat

We Who Are Left

Sat, 3 Nov 2018
This concert commemorates the 1918 armistice with works by five English composers reflecting their own musical backgrounds and wartime experiences.

The wellspring of Gerald Finzi’s Requiem da Camera was the death in action in 1918 of his first composition teacher, Ernest Farrar, whom he idolised. Finzi was shattered, and in the wake of Farrar’s passing conceived this memorial to him at the beginning of the 1920s. Gustav Holst’s Ode to Death (1922), for chorus and orchestra, was also written in response to composer friends who died in the war. Its quiet resigned mood and feeling of the infinite make it for many people Holst’s most beautiful choral work.

His daughter Imogen Holst’s Three Psalms (1943), for chorus and strings, are stunning pieces with subtle rhythms and carefully hidden harmonies producing a variety of choral textures. George Dyson fought in the war, suffering shellshock, but his Hierusalem (1956), for soprano, chorus and strings, presents not the grief and horror of war but a vision of heaven.

The concert starts with Elgar’s Sospiri for string orchestra, composed in the months leading up to the outbreak of the First World War; it was perhaps the gathering storm clouds of war that moved him to write such a heartfelt bleak adagio.

In his pre-concert talk, Andrew Burn, a member of the Finzi Trust, will focus on the relationship between teacher and pupil, and explore the Requiem da Camera which, for all its elegiac quietude, is also a lament for the heartbreak of war.

Join us for this thoughtful and moving reflection on war and its outcomes.
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