Bach St John Passion

J.S. Bach St John Passion, BWV 245

Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner - conductor

Live streamed from the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford on Friday 2 April

Filmed by Stagecast Limited:
Andrew Quick (director), Matt Parkin (producer)

On Good Friday 2021, John Eliot Gardiner led the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in a live streamed performance of Bach’s setting of the Passion according to St John from Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

The unique setting of Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre provided the backdrop for a performance that marked the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists’ return to the concert stage in 2021. A dynamic cast of soloists joined the Monteverdi ensembles for this live streamed concert, which was available to watch in high definition on Deutsche Grammophon’s digital platform, ‘DG Stage’.

“An Easter feast for the eyes as well as the ears.” ★★★★ The Sunday Times

“The crowd choruses were thrillingly delivered. Even better was the way Gardiner shaped every word of the chorales for maximum emotional impact, with everybody singing from memory throughout.” ★★★★ The Times

This performance came one year after lockdowns began in Europe due to Covid-19 - a period during which we broadcasted a cycle of Bach’s liturgical cantatas, introduced by the singers and instrumentalists who took part in our ground-breaking Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in the year 2000. It was therefore fitting to continue our commitment to the music of Bach by turning to one of the composer’s great sacred works: the St John Passion. Described by Martin Luther as ‘unique in loveliness’, the Gospel of John inspired Bach to respond with music which is by turns evocative, stirring, exultant and profoundly moving – a piece that holds our attention from beginning to end.

The cast of soloists included a new generation of British Bach singers. Nick Pritchard, a memorable tenor soloist in MCO’s last recording of Bach’s Mass in B minor, sang the Evangelist. The two principal actors in the biblical drama were taken by the young, award-winning bass William Thomas (Christus) and a long-standing collaborator of Gardiner, Alex Ashworth (Pilatus). One of the stars of MCO’s acclaimed 2018 Bach cantata cycle, Julia Doyle, sang the soprano arias, and Peter Davoren, first heard as a soloist with Gardiner in the Monteverdi Vespers in 2010, performed the tenor solos. The young countertenor Alexander Chance sang the arias which his father Michael performed on the Choir’s first recording of the St John Passion.

Monteverdi Choir

Emily Armour
Sam Cobb
Julia Doyle
Angela Hicks
Charlotte La Thrope
Emily Owen
Alison Ponsford-Hill
Amy Wood

Alexander Chance
Sarah Denbee
Simon Ponsford
Kate Symonds-Joy

Peter Davoren
Jonathan Hanley
Graham Neal
Gareth Treseder

Alex Ashworth
Sam Evans
Michael Lafferty
Alistair Ollerenshaw
Christopher Webb

English Baroque Soloists

Violin I
Kati Debretzeni
Iona Davies
Jane Gordon
Davina Clarke
Dominika Fehér

Violin II
Catherine Martin
Oliver Webber
Henrietta Wayne
Hildburg Williams
Jean Paterson

Annette Isserlis
Oliver Wilson
Lisa Cochrane

Viola d’amore
Catherine Martin
Oliver Webber

Catherine Rimer
Kinga Gáborjáni
Ruth Alford

Viola da gamba
Kinga Gáborjáni

Double bass
Valerie Botwright
Cecelia Bruggemeyer

Rachel Beckett
Christine Garratt

Oboe & Oboe da caccia
Rachel Chaplin
Leo Duarte

Oboe d’amore
Rachel Chaplin

Philip Turbett

Eligio Luis Quinteiro

James Johnstone
Robert Quinney

Robert Quinney