At 3pm on November 1, the next episode of Back to Bach will feature Assistant Organist at New College Dónal McCann with OBS Choral Scholarship Alumnus Filippo Turkheimer.

Filippo in rehearsal with Oxford Bach Soloists in New College Chapel

Why did you get involved with OBS?
I was a university student at the time, at New College, and performing alongside professional musicians was inspiring as well as a brilliant learning opportunity artistically. I was really young for a singer when I started with OBS, only 18/19, but it was a really excellent opportunity to learn about singing from and with Bach. He is such an important composer for the voice – the way that he writes produces not only masterpieces but pieces which are written in such a way as to teach both how to sing and how to approach certain techniques. Collections like the Well-Tempered Clavier, for example, not only work through the keys in an encyclopaedic manner, but present gestures that allow for keyboard training. His music was written for his students, these pedagogical institutions like the Thomasschule, and you can see in the repertoire itself that it teaches things like how to sing legato, how to execute scales, runs and arpeggios smoothly. I can certainly feel that when I sing this music. Therefore, singing this repertoire with the Oxford Bach Soloists is a great teaching tool and great training for a singer.

Das wohltemperierte Klavier I, BWV 846, first Prelude

Was it your first submersion in Bach?
I had always played a lot of Bach – we always sang the Matthew or John Passion with our school choir – Schola Cantorum at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. They are such immense works, and it was wonderful as a singer to have been raised in that tradition, but I think my most vivid memory of Bach was when I sang Pontius Pilate when I was sixteen. That was a fantastic learning experience: in particular it was my first opportunity to develop my confidence in singing recitative, which is extremely challenging. It was great training for me at the time – learning how to create that drama, especially in the scenes between Pilate and Jesus. These opportunities were also my first chance to sing in German, which of course as a singer is so important. I also remember clearly sitting in a rehearsal with Monteverdi Choir, which I think was my first real exposure to the cantatas – they were preparing Cantatas 79 [Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild (God the Lord is sun and shield)] and 80 [Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”)]. This was also my first real exposure to historically informed performance – the ensemble playing was exceptional. I think the way that they perform – and this is true of OBS as well – gives each performer authority to deliver the performance that they believe in with reference to the instruments that they have, without getting mired in what the composer’s intentions may have been. It’s so nice to see the collaboration of individual’s music making and I have a huge respect for the performers I got to work with at OBS.

This is an excerpt from our mailing list for 24 October 2020. For more exclusive content delivered directly to your inbox, sign up to our mailing list here:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.