|Friday 13 May – Saturday 21 May 2022
St John’s Smith Square, London
Between the Land and the Sea
Including Gabrieli, Brecon Baroque, London Handel Players, The Illyria Consort, Siglo de Oro, The Gesualdo Six, The Marian Consort, The Brook Street Band, Southbank Sinfonia Baroque, The Choir of Westminster Abbey, Joanna MacGregor, Helen Charlston, David de Winter
|St John’s Smith Square announces the 38th London Festival of Baroque Music 2022, returning after two years to celebrate the sweeping musical currents of baroque Venice and beyond in Between the Land and the Sea from 13-21 May 2022.
A stellar series of ensembles bring the cultural capital of the era to life, including Gabrieli, Brecon Baroque, the London Handel Players, The Illyria Consort, The Brook Street Band and St John’s Smith Square’s very own Southbank Sinfonia Baroque. This year’s Festival also sees appearances from vocal ensembles The Choir of Westminster Abbey, The Gesualdo Six, Siglo de Oro and The Marian Consort, and soloists Helen Charlston, David de Winter, Joanna MacGregor, James Johnstone and Erlend Vestby.
The London Festival of Baroque Music opens on Friday 13 May 2022 with grandiose Venetian celebrations for the crowning of a doge in 1595. Brought to life by Gabrieli and director Paul McCreesh in their 40th anniversary season, the group returns to the recording that first put them on the musical map. Transforming St John’s Smith Square into St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, they perform organ toccatas, instrumental pieces full of pomp and stunning polychoral sacred works written by their namesakes, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli.
Written just fifteen years later, Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers are performed by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, conductor James O’Donnell and St James’s Baroque on Thursday 19 May.
Drawing on the striking countryside of nearby Mantua – surrounded on all sides by man-made lakes – Venetian composer Vivaldi’s Four Seasons close the Festival under violinist Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque, with the composer’s contrapuntal Sonata and Sinfonia ‘Al Santo Sepolcro’ showing a different side to the glittering virtuosity often linked to the Red Priest (Saturday 21 May).
The virtuosic songs of Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi are brought to life by Helen Charlston on Monday 16 May with Owain Park’s Battle Cry, a work she premiered in 2021, which imagines the resounding battle cries of women, historical and mythological, throughout the centuries. Mezzo-soprano Charlston, 2018 Winner of the London Handel Competition and a BBC New Generation Artist, is joined by theorbist Toby Carr in this concert coinciding with the release of their debut album Battle Cry.
The Gesualdo Six and director Owain Park also join the Festival in a lunchtime concert exploring the development of the motet and the long Venetian legacy of Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez through works by Adrian Willaert and Gioseffo Zarlino (Monday 16 May), while Siglo de Oro and Patrick Allies celebrate the influence of Franco-Flemish late Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso on his pupils Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli (Friday 20 May).
Commemorating the 350th anniversary of the death of Heinrich Schütz, The Brook Street Band and tenor David de Winter also turn to the influence of Venice, where he spent extended periods studying under Giovanni Gabrieli and Monteverdi (Tuesday 17 May). De Winter and the Brook Street Band explore his solo cantatas and bring to life the brilliant virtuosic Venetian music that heavily influenced the German master’s musical language.
In a programme devised by Croatian-born Bojan Čičić of the Illyria Consort, London Festival of Baroque Music unearths the rarely-heard early baroque works of the Adriatic Coast in present-day Croatia, once part of the Venetian Republic. The consort perform rare instrumental works by Venice-based composers Usper, Kapsberger, Bassano and Rossi, with vocal works by Ioannis Lucacich de Sebenico, Gabrielo Puliti and Vicentio Jelich performed by the Marian Consort (Sunday 15 May).
In a wide selection of works from even further-flung corners, the London Handel Players and director Adrian Butterfield explore the exotic allure of the orient, the wild rituals of the Moors and Native Americans, the rugged hornpipes of the English and the captivating melancholy of Scottish ballads, folk songs and dances (Saturday 14 May).
In a solo performance stepping out from St John’s Smith Square’s resident ensemble Southbank Sinfonia, young cellist Erlend Vestby performs a selection of Bach’s iconic Cello Suites in a morning workshop and late-night concert (Saturday 14 May). Southbank Sinfonia is formed each year from the world’s most promising graduate musicians who embark upon its renowned training programme. The orchestra joins the Festival to present a period performance as Southbank Sinfonia Baroque on Wednesday 18 May of Handel’s Water Music with conductor Julian Perkins.
Renowned for her interpretations of Bach, Joanna MacGregor brings a contemporary twist to the festival performing the composer’s Goldberg Variations on the piano on Friday 20 May. Via Lübeck on the North German coast, where the young Bach once stayed for three months to listen to hear the pre-eminent composer Buxtehude play, James Johnstone performs works by the composer in a lunchtime organ recital on Tuesday 17 May.
Richard Heason, Artistic Director of London Festival of Baroque Music and Co-Director of St John’s Smith Square, commented:
“The return of the London Festival of Baroque Music to St John’s Smith Square is a source of much excitement for us all. A key fixture in the calendar for baroque music lovers, this year’s Venetian theme brings some of the best loved repertoire to the stage of our iconic concert hall. From Vivaldi to Strozzi, our programmes have been put together to inspire, educate and delight. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to this highlight of the year.”
The London Festival of Baroque Music follows a busy spring season at St John’s Smith Square, with the Easter Festival taking place from Sunday 10 – Sunday 17 April 2022 also celebrating the 350th anniversary of Heinrich Schütz as his Musikalische Exequien is performed on Easter Sunday (17 April 2022) by Vox Luminis.
Priority booking for the Festival starts from Monday 7 March 2022, with all concerts on sale from Monday 14 March 2022 from sjss.org.uk.