Spitalfields Music winter festival—12 days of Christmas chorals, concertos

Spitalfields Music Winter Festival has returned to the evocative Christmas settings of iconic churches and other venues on the City Fringe in London’s East End.

The 12 days of pre-Christmas kicked off last Friday in architectural gems including tiny Georgian front rooms, the preserved Hoxton Hall, the Chapel Royal at the Tower of London, Shoreditch Church and the baroque splendour of Hawksmoor’s Spitalfields Church.

There are several days left with performances from Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli Consort & Players, I Fagiolini award-winning ensemble, English Concert, the Early Opera Company and Spitalfields Music’s Women Sing East community choir.

Evening Concerts remaining include the I Fagiolini ensemble’s poignant Yuletide programme on Friday (Dec 14), blending JS Bach’s ‘Jesu, Meine Freude’ with David Lang’s ‘Little Match Girl’ Passion. It is based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and taking inspiration from Bach’s ‘St Matthew’ Passion, animated with shadow puppetry by Matthew Robins. The programme is completed by carols from Germany and Denmark. Performed at Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s), 7pm. Tickets: �5-�25.

Saturday—Gabrieli Consort & Players perform Britten’s ‘A Boy Was Born’. The Players return in a final celebration of their 30th birthday year after Spitalfields Summer Festival. Britten’s seasonal choral masterpiece is built around a tapestry of medieval poetry and is accompanied by seasonal choral works from across the centuries including works by Howells, Dove, Holst and Tudor masterpieces. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s), 7pm. Tickets: �25-�5


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Sunday—Gallicantus: A Musical Feast, a banquet inspired by popular 17th century Tafelmusik tradition. Gallicantus return to the festival following last year’s debut to perform sets of festive early vocal music by Byrd, Taverner and Tomkins between courses. Galvin La Chapelle restaurant in Spital Square, behind Bishgopsgate, 7pm. Tickets �55, with two-course meal, coffee and petit fours.

Monday—English Concert, with Corelli’s perennial ‘Christmas Concerto’ and JS Bach’s ‘Magnificat’ choral masterpieces. Spitalfields Christ Church, 7pm. Tickets: �5-�32.

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Tuesday—Early Opera Company and Women Sing East community choir: Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’. Vivaldi worked for 30 years at the Ospedale della Piet� orphanage in Venice, rising to become musical director of its renowned orchestra and girls’ choir, where he composed many of his concertos, cantatas and sacred vocal music for feast days. Christian Curnyn conducts Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ choral work, arias from ‘Juditha Triumphans’ and concertos from L’Estro Armonico, Opus 3, with soloists Catherine Martin (violin) and Emilie Renard (mezzo-soprano). Spitalfields Christ Church, 7pm. Tickets: �5-�32.

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