Artistic Director Nigel Short

Returning after a hugely successful inaugural year, St John's Smith Square and Tenebrae are delighted to announce the Holy Week Festival 2018 running from 26 March – 1 April 2018.

Curated in partnership with Tenebrae, St John’s Smith Square will host workshops, ticketed concerts and free late-night liturgical events exploring a vast range of sacred music in celebration of Holy Week. Nigel Short and Tenebrae will perform a moving sequence of devotional settings and responses on Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday; these are free for the public to attend and are generously supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Polish Cultural Institute. The festival will also include opportunities to participate in a workshop with Tenebrae and Come & Sing Handel’s Messiah. The programme’s vast range of sacred music for Holy Week will conclude on Sunday 1 April 2018 with a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor with Gabrieli and Paul McCreesh.

Nigel Short, Artistic Director of the Festival said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome you to the second Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square – not just a series of concerts but an all-inclusive experience for lovers of choral music and more. Inclusion is the buzzword in the Arts these days and the breadth of what’s on offer in this highly-concentrated experience could hardly be bettered. A truly global range of performers, amateur and top-notch professionals, with the added attraction of workshops and Come & Sing opportunities for you. Added to all of this is the thread which runs through the events – the music of the Liturgies of Holy Week. There is such a wealth of soul-searching repertoire associated with this period in the Christian calendar and this festival is far from simply the usual Passion performance.”

The Festival is delighted to welcome a host of distinguished headline performers to this year’s festival including Ex Cathedra, Gabrieli, Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia, Skylark (from the USA), The Gesualdo Six (SJSS 2015/16 Young Artists), The Temple Church Choir and The Tallis Scholars. Tenebrae is also proud to revive its collaboration with the Aurora Orchestra; this year they present Pärt’s Passio on Wednesday 28th March 2018 in what promises to be an unmissable event in this year’s festival.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Baltic states, this year’s programming will also feature music by Ēriks Ešenvalds, Paweł Łukaszewski and Arvo Pärt amongst other Baltic composers.

Nigel Short said: “What is it about the music of Passiontide that has so inspired composers and tugs at the heart as much as it has been at the service of the Liturgy? Does music deal with angst, suffering and death better than the happier side of our human experience? If there is still a deep-seated need for this expressive side of our nature, then I hope that there is something for everyone this year – sacred and secular, a cappella and with instruments. I hope that this festival fulfils all your musical needs for the season.”

Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square said: “Easter is such a special time in the musical calendar and at St John’s Smith Square we are delighted to host such a rich and varied programme of music for Passiontide. The Holy Week Festival celebrates so many different sides of music at Easter, with monumental choral masterpieces sitting alongside reflective and spiritual miniatures. We welcome some of the world’s leading exponents of choral music and yet also create opportunities for audiences and the community to participate. St John’s will resound with differing approaches to the musical liturgy and we look forward to sharing these performances with audiences throughout Holy Week as we celebrate the music of Easter.”


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