Bach to the Cathedral for Harpenden choir

Lea Singers concert

Lea Singers concert - Credit: Archant

Bach’s St Matthew Passion will be staged in the nave of St Albans Cathedral as Harpenden-based chamber choir, the Lea Singers, join forces with classical performers for a concert next Saturday, February 13.

In a new semi-staged production director Thomas Guthrie, who has previously worked at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, will position Bach’s work with the performers surrounded by their audience and the cathdral’s crucifixion wall paintings and the newly installed statues of the seven martyrs looking down from on high.

Each scene of Christ’s passion unfolds through Bach’s chorales, arias and recitatives. Freed from the usual staging conventions, the voices of the vocal soloists, instrumentalists and chorus will create a musical portrait of Christ’s final days.

Taking the role of the Evangelist, or narrator, is James Gilchrist, a renowned tenor who can be heard in many of the world’s greatest concert halls and who has been hailed as one of the finest Evangelists of his generation.

Leading the orchestras are Kati Debretzeni, local violinist and leader of Southbank Centre resident orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Catherine Martin, leader of the Gabrieli Consort & Players.

There are also a number of local, young up-and-coming soloists taking part in the concert, including Helen Charlston, soprano and founder member of the Harpenden-based vocal group Amici Voices.

Completing the line-up are cathedral organist Tom Winpenny and the Abbey Girls’ Choir.

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The concert is conducted by Lea Singers’ musical director Benjamin Goodson, who grew up in Herts and is now making a name for himself as a promising young conductor.

He said: “This is going to be a very special performance, completely unlike the usual choral concert. The staging will allow the full drama of Bach’s amazing music to be revealed and it is hugely exciting for the choir to be working with such high-quality musicians.’

Tickets range from £10 to £30 with concessions available, and they can be obtained from the box office on 01727 890290 or online here.