Bach - Christmas Oratorio & Handel - Foundling Hospital Anthem - Barts Choir - Cadogan Hall

I began playing on Friday 15th of December 2017 at 10am at Holy Trinity Church (Prince Consort Road) with an intensive B Minor Mass rehearsal with Solomon’s Knot ahead of their performances in Nottingham (16th Dec) and at St. John’s Smith Square (18th Dec). After this rehearsal, I walked to Cadogan Hall and took part in an afternoon rehearsal and evening performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Parts I - III) and Handel's Foundling Hospital Anthem, with the Barts Choir and the Trafalgar Baroque Ensemble, conducted by Ivor Setterfield.


We often talk of 'firsts', but this was a day full of seconds for me. It was my second time playing with the Barts Choir this year (after a successful B Minor Mass project in June). On this occasion, I played second trumpet, in the choir’s second performance (on consecutive evenings at Cadogan Hall) of a programme featuring two major works: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio [BWV 248] (Parts I-III) and Handel’s Foundling Hospital Anthem [HWV 268], which begins ‘Blessed are they that considereth the poor’ and ends with the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus from Handel’s Messiah - with the latter being performed a second time, as an encore.

I enjoyed playing with the Trafalgar Baroque Ensemble under the direction of Ivor Setterfield. He led the choir with exacting standards and gave an interesting and informative rehearsal. He brought the best out of the choir in the performance; singing a programme of such choral complexity on two consecutive evenings must have been vocally demanding. The energy being put in by the conductor was certainly reciprocated by the Barts Choir.

There were many memorable moments - the movement that made me feel most festive was (No.4 in Part I of the Christmas Oratorio) - ‘Bereite dich, Zion’, brilliantly rendered by soloist Katie Coventry.

There were beautiful solo and duet moments from oboists Oonagh Lee and Joel Raymond and the second part of the Christmas Oratorio featured the excellent Oboe da Caccia playing of Merlin Harrison and Christopher Hartland (appearing here in alphabetical order - as I didn't have a programme - I was listening from off-stage, so I'm not sure who played which part).

The orchestra, conductor, choir and all of the soloists did an excellent job - congratulations to all on a very successful performance.