The Christmas Oratorio by JS Bach will be performed by the Ludus Baroque at Greyfriars Kirk on 14 December 2018 at 7pm.

Richard Neville-Towle, artistic director of Ludus Baroque, explains that the named roles, including angels, saints and mortals, will be vividly identified in the production. He said: “The traditional way of performing the oratorio is for the choir to sing all the choruses. But looking at Bach’s original libretti, we noticed that he only marked ‘tutti’, which means all, on some of the choruses and not others, and not on the chorales. So, while we start with the heavenly forces, we can end sections meditatively according to the text; and in other cases enjoy the singing of the whole company of heaven and earth in great jubilation.”

He goes on to say that while the angels sing most of the choruses, the mortals sing most of the beautiful chorales – commentaries from the shepherds, wise men or the three kings – while the saints perform the melodic arias and duets.

“In the mortals’ chorales there’s one singer to each part and this is where the story unfolds, within the frame of the larger choruses. This creates a wonderful intimacy, especially in the last cantata. We perform it with the four voices of the mortal chorus surrounding the crib, singing softly for the first time to the newborn Christ, accompanied by the instrument closest to the human voice, the bassoon.”’

This year’s guest leader is Julia Bishop, who led Ludus Baroque in its very first performances and was the violinist in the baroque group Red Priest. Once again singers from the internationally-renowned Marian Consort, directed by Rory McCleery, will take the stage with Ludus Baroque while the mortals’ chorus will be sung by young Scottish professional singers in the Ludus Baroque Chorus.

This special chorus has evolved out of Ludus Baroque’s Bach Cantata project where local singers and instrumentalists are given the chance to perform Bach’s cantatas in Edinburgh churches. Part two of the project is due to run in spring 2019.

Christmas Oratorio by JS Bach
Sung in German (parallel translations and copy original text booklets available)
7pm on Friday, 14 December 2018 at Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ
Tickets £22.50 (£20 concession / £10 students and under 18s).

In advance from 0131 668 2019

Conductor: Richard Neville-Towle
Performers: Ludus Baroque, the Marian Consort and the Ludus Baroque Chorus Guest leader: Julia Bishop

This performance is supported by The Dunard Fund. Ludus Baroque gratefully acknowledges ongoing support from a large number of other trusts and individual supporters.

Ludus Baroque poster for concert