Swiss, Balts and brass bands – so this is Easter at Kings?

Swiss, Balts and brass bands – so this is Easter at Kings?


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2011

The seasonal Cambridge centrepiece, widely broadcast, has been given a makeover this year by music director Stephen Cleobury. 

The big event is Golgoatha by the Swiss composer Frank Martin. Petris Vasks, the Latvian, gets a big look-in and Prime Brass will bow out the festival with anticipations of the royal wedding.

Press release below.

Now in its seventh year, Easter at King’s has forged an enviable
reputation for presenting traditional and innovative repertoire for Passiontide
and Easter.  It offers a varied feast of
services and concerts that illustrate, contemplate and celebrate the Holy Week
and Easter narrative. In most years, BBC Radio 3 has broadcast from the
Festival to listeners all over the world.  


The climax of this year’s
festival is on Good Friday, 22 April, with a rare opportunity to hear Frank
Martin’s epic oratorio, Gologtha,
which will be broadcast live on Radio 3. 
Martin wrote some of the most poignant sacred music of the 20th
century. Golgotha (1948), written
when the composer was at the height of his powers, is a personal response to
the desolation of war-torn Europe. The awe-inspiring space of King’s College
Chapel, combined with the drama and sheer scale of Martin’s work, will make the
evening a rewarding musical and spiritual experience.


Easter at King’s opens on Tuesday 19 April with a performance of Bach’s St John Passion. The Choir of King’s
College Cambridge and Academy of Ancient Music combine forces again and the strong
cast of soloists includes King’s alumnus and Cambridge local Andrew Kennedy as
the Evangelist, and former Cambridge student, Elin Manahan Thomas returns to
sing soprano. There is an additional opportunity to enjoy this performance in
London, at the Cadogan Hall on April 20th.


Chamber Music for Maundy
Thursday, on 21 April, offers a chance for reflection and contemplation. The
concert will take place at the east end of the Chapel by candlelight. The trio
of top young artists, including Cambridge favourite and former King’s
chorister, Guy Johnston, will perform Vask’s extraordinary allegorical work, Episodi e Canto perpetuo framed by works
by Beethoven and Fauré.


Pergolesi’s masterpiece, Stabat Mater, combines with Bach for the Easter Vigil programme on
23 April. The work conveys, with great beauty, deep and heart-rending
compassion for Mary’s suffering during the events of Good Friday. Bach’s
powerful Cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden was written for Easter and
takes us from the crucifixion to the resurrection, whilst another work by Bach,
the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto prefigures the celebratory theme of Easter
Sunday. These three works provide the perfect mix of celebration and
contemplation for a concert set at the heart of the Easter weekend.


Daniel Hyde, a former Organ
Scholar at King’s College, will give an organ recital on Monday 25 April, which
concludes our Easter celebrations. However, we will be celebrating the Royal
Wedding in style the following Saturday with a brass concert given by Prime
Brass. The concert programme features some great British music, including
William Walton’s majestic Crown Imperial.


Throughout, the powerful and
moving Chapel liturgies are fundamental to the series and are sung by the
Chapel Choir.  Good Friday is an
excellent day to visit Cambridge with Allegri’s famous Miserere mei Deus sung in the morning and the Lamentations of Jeremiah of Thomas Tallis at evensong.
Alternatively, why not come to the concerts on Easter Eve and then stay the
night so that you can also enjoy the services on Easter Sunday itself?


We are taking the Festival outside
King’s Chapel and into Cambridge for the first time in 2011. To celebrate the
400th anniversary of the death of Victoria, the extraordinarily powerful Tenebrae Responsories will be performed
in three late night services in three different Cambridge College Chapels. The
climax of the three will be in King’s Chapel on April 23rd.



Easter at
King’s Schedule


19 April


 Bach St
John Passion


Thursday 21 April

Sung Eucharist and Stripping of the Altar


Chamber Music for Maundy Thursday

Beethoven Trio op 1 no 2 in G Major

Vasks “Episodi e Canto perpetuo”

Fauré Trio op 120 in D minor

Victoria Tenebrae Responsories
Clare College Chapel


Friday 22 April

Ante-Communion and Veneration of the Cross

Choral Evensong


Frank Martin Golgotha

Victoria Tenebrae Responsories
 Corpus Christi College Chapel


Saturday 23 April


Pergolesi Stabat Mater

Bach Brandenburg
Concerto No. 4

Victoria Tenebrae Responsories


Day Sunday 24 April

Sung Eucharist

Festal Evensong


Monday 25 April


Daniel Hyde Organ Recital


30 April


Prime Brass

Music for Easter …and a Royal Wedding