Further to the Government announcement of new national restrictions, St John’s Smith Square will not be operating any public events between Thursday 5 November and Wednesday 2 December inclusive. SJSS are working to reschedule all concerts due to take place during this period to new dates in 2021.
Events from Thursday 3 December onwards (including the 35th Christmas Festival) will still be going ahead as planned and SJSS have invited audiences to book with the confidence that, should circumstances prevent concerts from going ahead, full refunds will be provided.
The 35th Christmas Festival commences on 10th December and runs through to 23rd December as usual. All concerts will be appropriately socially distanced and on many occasions, repeated, to ensure that as many people as possible can experience the joy of live music at Christmas.
The festival opens with Olivier Messiaen’s monumental outpouring of faith, his solo piano odyssey ‘Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus’, played by Rolf Hind (10th Dec, 7.30pm). There is then the first of two participatory concerts featuring Koor with conductor Simon Capet (11 Dec, 7.30pm). The first of the regular artists who appear each year at the SJSS Christmas Festival will be The Choir of Clare College Cambridge on 12th December at 5pm, with a programme built around Britten’s ever-popular ‘A Ceremony of Carols’. Previous SJSS Young Artists, The Gesualdo Six, give a pair of concerts on 13th December evoking the mystery and joy of the season whilst on 14th December David Titterington continues the exploration of the Christmas music of Messiaen, performing the organ tour de force ‘La Nativité du Seigneur’. The London Choral Sinfonia return to the Christmas Festival on 16th December with a programme including Bach’s joyous ‘Magnificat’. Regular favourites Ex Cathedra return to the Christmas Festival, celebrating their 50th anniversary season on 17th December and The Tallis Scholars return to give two performances on the theme of ‘Holy Mother and Son’ on the 18th. The City of London Choir give a family friendly carol concert on the 19th whilst contemporary carols are also featured in the second of Koor’s interactive concerts on the 21st. As is long-established tradition, Stephen Layton directs his choir Polyphony for the climax of the festival on the 23rd December in a pair of concerts celebrating the great mystery of Christmas through the ages.
Alongside the live concerts all the events in the Christmas Festival will be streamed at www.christmasfestivallondon.com along with a range of specially created digital programmes from groups such as The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford and The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge.
Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square, commented “Christmas is always such a highlight in the musical calendar, and although this year we all face enormous and unprecedented challenges, we hope that the 35th Christmas Festival from St John’s Smith Square can bring peace and joy to people in these difficult times, whether attending in person or catching up online at www.christmasfestivallondon.com. Music is so important for so many people, brining fulfilment to their lives. We may not be able to celebrate with family and friends in the same ways as usual this year, but we can all take comfort and strength from the force of music.”