Supported by Chimes Music and Bachtrack, with 27 concerts over three months in six different venues and featuring a host of London’s best choral music-makers, the Brandenburg Spring Choral Festival 2011 is a truly exciting project for which St Martin’s is proud to be a focal point. Artistic Director Bob Porter tells ITP a little more about his New Year’s project. Bob: With so much choral music taking place in Central London, I believed there should be a focus to draw together the best of all the different genres of vocal ensemble music making – and from this heart-felt belief emerged the first Brandenburg Spring Choral Festival. ITP: How did the project evolve? Bob: The first step was to find a, geographical, artistic and spiritual centre with a sympathetic acoustic and where better than St Martin-in-the-Fields? ITP: Flattery will get you everywhere! Tell us more about the concerts here at St Martin’s? Bob: At the structural core of the Festival will sit seven major concerts, each featuring masterpieces of the choral repertoire including Mozart, Brahms and Fauré Requiems, Handel Messiah, Haydn Nelson Mass and Vivaldi Gloria. These will be supplemented by an early evening performance including Allegri Miserere. There will also be four late-night concerts Rachmaninov Vespers, a concert contrasting Byrd and Tallis with Tippett, the magnificent Spem in Alium, and a late night jazz gig by James Pearson (Music Director at Ronnie Scott’s) based on themes emerging from the Festival. All twenty-seven concerts will also support St Martin’s Christmas Appeal. ITP: Enough to keep everybody on their toes, but there is much more ...? Bob: To encompass a wide range of other genres there will be a complementary series of more varied “satellite” concerts including
Welsh Male Voice Choirs, Jazz Ensembles, Steel Pan Band, Barbershop and Gospel Choirs, as well as Chamber Choirs specialising in the more standard a cappella repertoire. These concerts will take place in some interesting and varied venues including the National Portrait Gallery, The New Players Theatre, Kings College Chapel, Lincoln’s Inn Chapel and the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. Each of these unique and contrasting venues will provide a home for a number of concerts based on repertoire appropriate to its architecture and religious and historical provenance. The three chapels each have a particular historical and architectural interest, and the Festival will offer an opportunity to hear performances rarely permitted in these special, spiritual spaces. In addition the three concerts in the Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn will offer a limited number of pre-concert tours of Lincolns Inn outlining its historical and architectural features. ITP: You must be thrilled to bring together such an eclectic bunch of performers and venues. Bob: The list of choirs and their associated directors reads like a Premier League of the British Choral scene! ITP: What are you personally most looking forward to? Bob: One of the many high spots will undoubtedly be the Opening Concert of the Messiah on January 3rd at St Martin’s. With thirty choirs participating in the Festival, the audience for the Messiah will contain huge numbers of choristers so music will be available for all, and the entire audience will be invited to join in with both the Hallelujah Chorus and the closing Amen. I am sure it will produce nothing short of a spine-tingling moment. ITP: We are certainly looking forward to it! Was it difficult to persuade thirty choirs, six venues and sponsors of the importance of such a project? Bob: The immediate response to the development of the Festival has been one of overwhelming enthusiasm. Already we have a waiting list of choirs wanting to be part of the 2012 Festival including choirs from Denmark and Catalunya. It is clear that the project is certain to grow and grow.