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July 2020

Back to Bach: Rosie Moon & Jacob Garside

Sunday 5 July 2020, 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm
YouTube

Our new series Back to Bach reveals how OBS musicians have returned to the works of JS Bach during lockdown. In this first episode, Rosie Moon (violone & double bass) and Jacob Garside (gamba & cello) explore the evolution of polyphony from Gibbons to Bach.

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August 2020

Back to Bach: Yu-Wei Hu & Johan Löfving

Sunday 2 August 2020, 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm
YouTube

Back to Bach reveals how OBS musicians have returned to the works of JS Bach during lockdown. In this second episode, Yu-Wei Hu (flute) and Johan Löfving (theorbo) explore the Master of melody and harmony.

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April 2021

Virtual Easter Festival

Friday 2 April 2021, 3:00 pm - Friday 30 April 2021, 11:30 pm

We are delighted to present our inaugural Virtual Easter Festival this April.

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Shot down the nave of Christ Church Cathedral

St John Passion BWV 245

Friday 2 April 2021, 3:00 pm - Friday 30 April 2021, 11:30 pm
Recorded at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Aldates
Oxford, OX1 1DP

Welcome to the OBS Easter Festival. Join us in the extraordinary setting of Christ Church Cathedral for a brand new immersive production with staging by renowned Director Thomas Guthrie.

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Christ lag in Todesbanden BWV 4

Saturday 3 April 2021, 3:00 pm - Friday 30 April 2021, 11:30 pm
Recorded at New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN

Day two of our online Easter Festival brings us Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in death's bonds) - BWV 4 - from the intimate setting of New College Chapel. This includes a special lecture from our longterm partner in research, German Mediaevalist Professor Henrike Lähnemann.

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Easter Oratorio

Sunday 4 April 2021, 3:00 pm - Friday 30 April 2021, 11:30 pm

We return to Christ Church Cathedral for day three of our Easter Festival, with the spectacular Easter Oratorio, BWV 249.

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Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret BWV 31

Monday 5 April 2021, 3:00 pm - Friday 30 April 2021, 11:30 pm
Recorded at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Aldates
Oxford, OX1 1DP

In the final part of our Easter Festival, join us for the peaceful beauty of our smallest piece of the weekend: Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret (Heaven laughs! Earth exults) - BWV 31.

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October 2021

spirit: give

Sunday 3 October 2021, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Committing acts of kindness increases wellbeing. The first musical track on “The Golden Record” onboard NASA’s two Voyager probes is Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2: a gift from planet Earth to the universe. J. S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (chamber version for quintet), BWV 1047R Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn (Lord Christ, the only son of God), BWV 96 Gott soll allein mein Herze haben (God alone shall have my heart), BWV 169   G. P. Telemann Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes…

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November 2021

mind: learn

Sunday 7 November 2021, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Learning something new enhances self-esteem and helps us to feel balanced and connected. A sense of balance is inherent in the number three, as found in the “Trinity Knot” (Triquetra). Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto is unusual for its scoring and instrumentation: three violins, three violas, three cellos, and basso continuo. Could it be a depiction of the Trinity in music? Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048 Nur jedem das Seine! (To each his own!), BWV 163 Ich liebe den Höchsten von…

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January 2022

people: connect

Sunday 9 January, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Putting the wellbeing of others before ourselves is unconventional but enhances our own lives. Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto challenges commonly held social assumptions that some people are “better” than others. The young Prince elector of Saxony, Friederick Christian, expressed it well: “Princes exist for their subjects, not subjects for their princes.” Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, BWV 1049 Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen - ‘Herkules auf dem Scheidewege’ (Let us take care, let us watch over – ‘Hercules at the…

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body: move

Sunday 23 January, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Regular exercise is essential for promoting wellbeing. Dancing and hunting were among the favourite forms of exercise of European aristocracy, and hunting was inextricably bound with the horn. Bach’s First Brandenburg Concerto bursts in with whooping horns, like riders back from their tantivies! Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, BWV 1046 Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht! (False world, I don't trust you!), BWV 52 Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten (Concordant discord of alternating strings), BWV 207 Book tickets

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February 2022

place: take notice

Sunday 6 February, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Reminding ourselves to ‘take notice’ strengthens and broadens awareness. In Cantata 35, we are reminded to ‘take notice’ as the alto soloist, stupefied, sings, “I am amazed, for all one sees must cause us astonishment!” We watch in amazement as the harpsichord soloist in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto delivers a coruscating cadenza of colossal power and chromatic intensity. Was it designed for Bach to play himself? Who else could play it? Couperin, L’art de toucher le clavecin Brandenburg Concerto No.…

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March 2022

Continuo Workshop

Saturday 5 March, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Book tickets

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planet: care

Sunday 6 March, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Looking after our world can make a big difference in leaving it a better place for the next generation. As custodian and steward of his life on earth, Bach was committed to passing on his skills to his children, as his forebears did to him, and to leaving a timeless legacy for future generations to enjoy. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, BWV 1051 Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt (Just as the rain and snow fall from heaven), BWV 18…

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April 2022

Easter Festival: St John Passion

Friday 15 April, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

One of Bach’s best-loved works, the St John Passion was first performed on Good Friday of 1724 in St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig. ‘More daring, forceful and poetic’ than the St Matthew Passion, according to Robert Schumann, this operatic work is presented by an Evangelist, ensemble of soloists, four-part choir, strings and basso continuo together with pairs of flauti traversi and oboes doubling on oboe da caccia. BWV 245 Johannes-Passion (St John Passion) Book tickets  

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Easter Festival: Easter Oratorio

Saturday 16 April, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Two of Bach’s earliest cantatas for Easter Day, Christ lag in Todesbanden and Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubiliert are performed here in their revived Leipzig versions. The story takes us from darkness to blazing light, from grief to joy, echoed in the dramatic Easter Oratorio. Told by four characters Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobe, Simon Peter, and John the Apostle, it canters to the end in triumphant victory. BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in the Bonds of Death)…

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Easter Festival: Rejoice You Hearts

Sunday 17 April, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Abundant joy, rushing swirling scales, and fanfare-like arpeggios set the scene for the Resurrection in Bach’s Cantatas for Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, and Quasimodogeniti (‘Low’ Sunday). Join our virtuoso soloists as they lead us through Bach’s panoply of pastoral colours, brilliant coloratura, and triumphant pageantry. BWV 66 Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (Rejoice, you hearts) BWV 134 Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß (A heart that knows its Jesus is living) BWV 67 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ (Keep Jesus Christ in mind)…

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Easter Festival: The Lord is my Shepherd

Monday 18 April, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

Described as ‘one of the truly perfect cantatas, flawless in every detail’, Cantata 104 draws its inspiration from Psalm 23 ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’. Full of leisurely melodies and flourishes, it finds refreshment, green pastures and a foretaste of heaven. As we move towards Christ’s Ascension and departure from the earth, Cantata 166 is in a rather uncertain vein asking the question ‘Where are you going?’ yet Bach’s music is always full of hope. Clearing the skies to joy…

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May 2022

Resound, Ye Songs!

Sunday 8 May, 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

 Watch live-stream! . Bach’s earliest works are often considered to be his most inventive, full of daring ideas. Cantata 12 is one of his most affecting compositions, the opening of which was to find its way into the B minor Mass. Now one year in his post as Thomaskantor, he revived his Pentecost Cantatas 59 and 172 for the 2nd and 3rd time respectively. Dating from 1714 during his employment in service of the Dukes of Weimar, the effulgent Cantata…

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June 2022

Festival of Joy

Sunday 19 June, 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
New College Chapel, Holywell Street
Oxford, OX1 3BN
+ Google Map

 Watch live-stream! 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…

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