Tell us a bit about yourself, and your training and career to date?

My earliest musical training began as a member both of a local choral society and of the London Oratory Junior Choir, in which I became acquainted with Roman Catholic liturgy and music. My education continued as a music scholar at Winchester College, where I focused on the organ and gained invaluable experience in playing for services in the chapel. I continued to develop these skills as a gap-year Organ Scholar at Hereford Cathedral.

How long have you been involved in Oxford Bach Soloists and in what role?

I have played regularly with Oxford Bach Soloists since January 2017 as a continuo organist. This role is a demanding one, not least because one plays most of the time in nearly every movement of a cantata. However, it is a highly rewarding role, since the continuo section of any baroque orchestra forms its lynchpin.

Charles Maxtone-Smith Candles

Which other musical ensembles are you involved with?

My main musical commitment at the moment is as the Organ Scholar at New College, Oxford. This involves playing duties for six services per week during term, assisting the Organist and training the boy choristers and probationers, as well as taking a full part in the choir’s programme of external events, such as concerts, recordings and tours. Outside the college I play at St Michael at the North GateOxford on Sunday mornings and regularly give organ recitals.

You will be performing the Prelude and Fugue in E flat during our next concert. Can you tell us more about the context of this work, and some of its challenges as a performer?

Bach’s majestic Prelude and Fugue in E flat BWV 552 is known in the English-speaking world as the ‘St Anne’ because of the first subject’s resemblance to the hymn tune of the same name byWilliam Croft. The prelude and fugue form the outer movements of Bach’s Clavierübung III, which also includes 21 chorale preludes and four duets. Both prelude and fugue contain three themes or subjects that represent the Holy Trinity. It is a truly rewarding piece to perform. The main challenge is not only to draw out the various characters of the Trinitarian themes, but also to unify them and to make the piece sound like a coherent whole.

Charles Maxtone Smith

What do you see as a value of ensembles like OBS to young aspiring musicians?

The presence of such a vibrant baroque group has become a real asset to the wider musical scene in Oxford. Oxford Bach Soloists draws on a wide array of talent from the city. Singers and instrumentalists alike are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in this extraordinary project to perform Bach’s complete vocal works. Performing Bach’s cantatas not only allows me to become acquainted with this glorious music, but it also informs my solo playing of Bach’s organ music and those who influenced him.

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