Three questions to artistic director - ahead of the encore performance of j.s. bach "christmas oratorio"
Q: What are the general challenges in putting such a major performance together?
MG: Since the Oratorio is really a compilation of six cantatas for the major feasts of the Christmas Season, the instrumentation is different for each cantata. Some have trumpets, others do not. The flutes play for the first three cantatas, and then they're done. Cantata II requires four oboists, and playing oboe d'amore and oboe d’caccia at that! The two horn players make an appearance in cantata IV and no where else....
In addition, you need a team of excellent soloists. Scheduling the rehearsals after the major busy season for our musicians simply makes logistical sense. There is also more to do for the chorus than in the average cantatas, which usually has an opening chorus and closing chorale. So it's more involved for the chorus.
Q: Filling a house on a New Year’s Eve could be very risky, yet the 2014 concert was sold out. Are you hoping to see a lot of listeners again this year?
MG: There are so many holiday concerts taking place from early to mid December. I find the idea of a New Year’s Eve concert, post Christmas Day, a lovely way to ‘begin afresh’.
When we performed the Christmas Oratorio two years ago, we indeed seemed to be breaking all of the norms and rules in terms of conventional concert concept, especially given its timing: New Year’s Eve, with all of its revelry and parties; a mid-afternoon rather than at night; scheduling it after the traditional "Holiday Concert Season". Add to this the fact that the work is relatively unknown. However, the audience turnout and feedback was so positive, several people asked whether we would be doing it every year!
It is a real pleasure to offer an event that can defy traditional patterns and find a foothold in our diverse cultural landscape.