Birthday treats for J S Bach lovers

St Albans Bach Choir Messiah

St Albans Bach Choir Messiah - Credit: Archant

Lovers of the music of J S Bach have a treat in the coming week when his 329th birthday will be celebrated with three different performances across the district.

St Albans Bach Choir brings a new dimension to the presentation of its core repertoire when it performs J S Bach’s St Matthew Passion in German in St Albans Cathedral this Saturdfay..

Music director Andrew Lucas said: “His Passion according to Matthew is some of his greatest music. This year the choir will be performing it in the original German, thereby avoiding the musical compromises that must necessarily be made if an English translation is used, and allowing Bach to speak with his own authentic voice.”

The role of the Evangelist, the narrator of the story, is sung by internationally renowned German tenor Norbert Meyn, who also been attending choir rehearsals to ensure that the choir’s German pronunciation is as accurate as possible.

He is joined by Matthew Baker as Christus, and Anna Dennis, Tim Travers-Brown, Peter Mitchell and Lawrence White who sing the solos and ensemble.

The choir’s regular orchestra, Sinfonia Verdi, will be accompanying, and boys from St Albans Cathedral Choir and girls from St Albans Abbey Girls Choir have a cameo role as the ripieno choir. The performance starts at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available from, the cathedral gift shop or 01727 890290.

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Also on Saturday will be an organ recital in St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, given by Pieter van Dijk, organist of Grote Sint Laurenskerk, Alkmaar in the Netherlands.

Pieter, a distinguished scholar, recitalist and professor of organ at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, opens his recital with the Prelude and Fugue in G major followed by Chorale Preludes from the Orgelbüchlein.

In the centre of the programme is Bach’s second Trio Sonata in C minor and the finale is an early work, the Passacaglia in C minor.

Entry to the recital, which starts at 5.30pm, is free but there will be a retiring collection in aid of The International Organ Festival Society.

Continuing their acclaimed performances of the great Bach vocal works in Harpenden, Amici Voices will perform the Matthew Passion in St John’s Church, Southdown.

The performance, at 7pm next Wednesday, March 25, follows their performances of Bach’s Matthew Passion and Christmas Oratorio in 2013 and 2014, and the John Passion in 2012 and 2014.

The singers are current or former Oxbridge choral scholars and experienced consort singers and vocal soloists in their own right. The group explores vocal repertoire of all periods beginning with Bach’s settings of the Passion.

The performance will be sung in German with tenor Hiroshi Amako as the Evangelist and Michael Craddock in the part of Jesus.

The instrumentalists of Amici Baroque Players, led by violinists Clare Salaman and Miles Golding, include some period instrument specialists in their field.

Tickets cost £15 (students and under 18s £5), unreserved seating, available from Creature Comforts, Vaughan Road, Harpenden or 01582 462024.