Published: 3 January, 2013
by SEBASTIAN TAYLOR
IF you ever fancied singing Bach’s St John Passion, now’s your chance.
By coincidence, the two leading non-audition choirs in Camden and Islington – North Camden Chorus (NCC) under musical director Ian Gibson and Islington Choral Society (ICS) under Michael Bowden – are both singing Bach’s masterpiece at their spring concerts in March.
Anyone interested in joining should turn up at the choirs’ first rehearsals, both scheduled for next Tuesday evening.
Rehearsal venue details are below in my weekly listings section.
Tenors and basses will be greatly welcomed at each choir.
The St John Passion is widely regarded as the most sublime piece of church music ever composed, the finest achievement of Bach's genius.
Singing the St John Passion is no easy task, particularly for amateur choirs. Not so long ago, the Highgate Choral Society fell below its high standards with an embarrassing performance in All Hallows, Gospel Oak.
Singers have to pass an audition test to get into the HCS. Not so at the NCC and the ICS, each firmly committed to making choral singing available to all without audition.
The quid pro quo is that choir members accept the responsibility of attending as many rehearsals as possible – and learning their parts at home in between rehearsals.
It’s worth the effort as a good performance on the night is a never-to-be-forgotten experience, as ICS members can testify after their excellent performance of Verdi’s Requiem last month.
It’s not only a coincidence that the NCC and ICS have chosen the same piece to perform the St John Passion at their next concert. By coin-cidence, too, Saturday March 23 is the date of their performances.
Regrettably, therefore, it won’t be possible to compare their singing of Bach’s masterpiece.