Opera + Classical Music Features

Preview: St John’s Smith Square 29th Annual Christmas Festival

The winter season would not be the same without at least one outing to this most ‘christmassy’ of venues, the wonderful St John’s with its spacious acoustic, warm atmosphere and most of all, varied programme to end the year in style. There are a total of 12 concerts, and with prices at £10-£55, there is something to please everyone.

The festivities begin on December 11th, when the European Union Baroque Orchestra perform music by Rameau and Jean-Féry Rebel, and they end on December 23rd when Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment present their Messiah under the direction of Stephen Layton. This Messiah has long been a highlight not just of the Christmas season but of the entire concert year, and with soloists including Iestyn Davies and Katherine Watson, this one should live up to expectations.

Between those dates, there is much to enjoy, with particular highlights from the Choir of King’s College London performing Tallis’ Spem in Alium on Friday 12th alongside other Renaissance gems by Lassus as well as Frank Martin’s setting of the Mass. Oxford Baroque visits St John’s on the 15th with a festive programme of music by Charpentier. If traditional favourites are more your style, then the concert on the 17th by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford should please, with favourites including In dulci jubilo and In the bleak midwinter.

The Tallis Scholars and Peter Phillips present music by Byrd and Tavener as well as Turges’ Magnificat, and another highlight is sure to be the performance of Bach’s B minor Mass by The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and the OAE, on December 22nd. Perhaps the only regret is that this year there’s no Christmas Oratorio, but there is plenty on offer to compensate.

Booking and further information can be found here.

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