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April 2019

St John Passion

Friday 19 April, 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £25 123 tickets left
Ben Johnson

One of Bach’s best loved works, the St John Passion was first performed on Good Friday of 1724 in the St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig. This operatic piece is presented by an ensemble of soloists, chorus, and orchestra, ‘Daring, forceful and poetic’ – Robert Schumann.

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Easter Oratorio

Saturday 20 April, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £25 153 tickets left
Aileen Thomson

Bach’s festive scoring with trumpets and drums tells the story of the Resurrection through Simon Peter, John the Apostle, Mary Magdalene, and Mary Jacobe.

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May 2019

Word of Thunder

Sunday 5 May, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Trumpet

On 2nd November 1723, Bach was in Störmthal and performed Cantata 194 to dedicate their new organ. Full of extrovert colours, Bach adapts the structure and style of an orchestral suite into cantata form.

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June 2019

Whit Sunday

Sunday 2 June, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Aimee Presswood, Soloist

Barely arrived in Leipzig, Bach probably announced himself with Cantata 59 on Whit Sunday 1723 (16 May), six days before his family joined him. Eight days later, he began his first Leipzig cantata cycle with Cantata 75.

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The Heavens are Telling

Sunday 30 June, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Sam Mitchell, Alto

Keen to impress the congregations in Leipzig, Bach’s first Cantatas in his new role set the bar extraordinarily high. Both Cantata 75 (for Whit Sunday) and Cantata 76 are written on a great scale consisting of 14 movements

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August 2019

Behold and See

Sunday 4 August, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Horn

Recycling was very much a part of the 18th century composer’s armory, and Bach’s efforts were the most inventive. Cantata 186, which started life in Weimar 1716, is presented in its later, expanded version.

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September 2019

Sanctus

Sunday 1 September, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Tom Lowen

A stirring Sanctus in C major, and three cantatas with big statements: BWV 179 preaches against hypocrisy with marvelous directness; BWV 77 illustrates the second of Jesus’ two commandments recounted in the gospel narratives; and BWV 69a enjoins us to praise the Lord and ‘do not forget what good He has done for you!’

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October 2019

Sound In My Body

Sunday 6 October, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Sound in my Body

Throughout the long summer and autumn Trinitarian period, the Lutheran lectionary’s emphasis on sin and sickness in mind and body reaches full tilt in expressions such as ‘The whole world is but a hospital’ in Cantata 25. But Bach’s music is the ‘balm of Gilead’ that heals all, above the ceaseless lament.

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November 2019

Help My Unbelief

Sunday 3 November, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Tom Hammond-Davies

The cantatas Bach was writing at this time deal with the theme of Christians rejecting the material world and its temptations so as not to risk losing union with God. Cantata 162 relates to the parable of the royal wedding feast to which ‘many are called but few are chosen’.

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December 2019

Magnificat: Cantatas for Christmas

Tuesday 24 December, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £25
Daniel Norman, Tenor

Bach’s first Christmas in Leipzig comes with an explosion of festive music. After Advent’s ‘tempus clausum’ (closed period), Bach laid on nine major pieces for his singers and instrumentalists to master, including the Magnificat in E flat major, more commonly heard in its later D major version.

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