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April 2020

St John Passion from Isolation

Friday 10 April, 3:00 pm - Sunday 31 May, 4:00 pm
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Paulo Troilo - Vitruvian Man

Thank you to Paolo Troilo for our cover image for this concert - if you want to see more of his brilliant hyperrealistic fingerpainting check out his Instagram page. St John Passion from Isolation We were truly devastated to have to cancel our Easter concerts, so we have been working really hard in collaboration with production company Positive Note to bring you a really special performance of Bach's St John Passion recorded by the Oxford Bach Soloists and many guest…

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June 2020

Festival of Joy

Sunday 7 June, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Festival of Joy

A trio of cantatas drawn from earlier works, deftly reworked to suit their new contexts. The Pentecostal cantatas 173 and 184 find their roots in secular Serenatas written for Prince Leopold at Cöthen, their imagery ingeniously preserved so that association between words and music is unharmed. Cantata 194, written for the dedication of the church and organ at Störmthal in 1723, was probably also based on a lost Cöthen work and is revived here in full festal splendour for Trinity Sunday in 1724.

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July 2020

Wake Up!

Sunday 5 July, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Wake Up

In his second cycle of Cantatas at Leipzig, Bach focuses exclusively on the chorale, each Cantata based on the main Lutheran hymn for the occasion. This new ‘chorale cantata’ cycle is announced with a sweeping French overture in the grand Cantata 20 ‘O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort’. After impressive coloratura from the tenor, we are woken up by the bass and trumpet with the words ‘Wacht auf, wacht auf!’. Cantata 2 takes as its basis Martin Luther’s chorale ‘Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein’, with images of silver purified through fire.

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August 2020

Song of Mary

Sunday 2 August, 3:00 pm - 4:40 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Song of Mary

A mighty handful of cantatas takes us on journey from the Parable of the Lost Coin, to Mary’s Magnificat, to Peter’s great catch of fish and the feeding of the four thousand, and finally a warning of false prophets from the Sermon on the Mount. This rich panoply of music displays a unique fanatasia based on the ‘Passion Chorale’, a clamorous uproar of the whole world in the Song of Mary, and two movements which Bach thought sufficiently well of to include in the Schübler Chorale Preludes.

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September 2020

Come Unto Him

Sunday 6 September, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
Come Unto Him

From July 1724 onwards, Bach must have had access to an exceptionally talented flautist for whom, in the months that followed, he regularly composed unusually demanding music. This unknown player possessed remarkable virtuosity on an instrument that was then still a novelty, and the opening bars of Cantata 94 must have surprised the connoisseurs among the Leipzig congregation. Cantata 101, based on the Martin Moller’s chorale (1584) which he had written during a time of plague, displayed yet more of this fine flautist’s skill in the first aria.

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October 2020

When Will I Die?

Sunday 4 October, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £15
When Will I Die

Muted violins and pizzicato express fearfulness of shaky steps in Cantata 33, and a virtuoso flute counterpoint depicts shaking and torment of the soul in Cantata 99. The monumental opening chorus of BWV 78 stands out as one of Bach’s most remarkable examples of a chromatic passacaglia in passus duriusculus, used in the model for the Crucifixus of the B Minor Mass. Plucked arpeggios, bell tones, and a slow elegiac swing evoke the scene of ‘a passing funeral cortège’ (Gardiner) in the opening movement of Cantata 8, painting a picture of a ‘church-yard full of lowers in the springtime’ (Spitta).

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November 2020

Morning Star

Sunday 1 November, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map
Free – £15
Morning Star

An instruction to ‘Take what is yours and go away’ opens this concert of three of Bach’s most celebrated chorale-cantatas. These direct words in Cantata 114 draw from the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, and are followed directly by a second instruction not to grumble when things don’t go as planned. Cantata 96 compares Christ to the ‘Morning Star’, with the appearance of a sparkling sopranino recorder, used for the first time in his cantatas, and the famous melody by Philipp Nicolai often heard at Christmas, ‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’ (How brightly shines the morning star)

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December 2020

Wedding Feast

Sunday 13 December, 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map
Free – £15
Wedding Feast

Themes of weddings and feasts abound in Cantata 180, Bach’s choral-cantata setting of the great Eucharist hymn, ‘Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele’ (Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness). Based on the Parable of the Great Banquet, it maintains a festive feeling throughout, imagining a bride preparing for her wedding, full of charm, grace, and great delicacy.

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Christmas Oratorio Parts 1 & 3

Wednesday 23 December, 5:00 pm - 6:45 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £25 241 tickets left
Christmas Oratorio Pt 1

Join us for one of Oxford’s most evocative seasonal events in the magical setting of New College Chapel. J. S. Bach’s much loved telling of the Christmas story describes the Birth of Jesus, the annunciation to the shepherds, and the adoration of the shepherds in his Christmas Oratorio of 1734. Spread over two days, the Oratorio shares the stage with Bach’s Advent masterpiece Cantata 62 Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, and Christmas Cantatas written in his second year at Leipzig. Such festive and brilliant music is sure to be a memorable way to celebrate Christmas this year!

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Christmas Oratorio Part 4

Thursday 24 December, 5:00 pm - 6:45 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
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Free – £25 247 tickets left
Christmas Oratorio Pt 2

Join us for one of Oxford’s most evocative seasonal events in the magical setting of New College Chapel. J. S. Bach’s much loved telling of the Christmas story describes the Birth of Jesus, the annunciation to the shepherds, and the adoration of the shepherds in his Christmas Oratorio of 1734. Spread over two days, the Oratorio shares the stage with Bach’s Advent masterpiece Cantata 62 Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, and Christmas Cantatas written in his second year at Leipzig. Such festive and brilliant music is sure to be a memorable way to celebrate Christmas this year!

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