Thursday, 14 June 2018

Artist Spotlight - Violinist Rachel Podger

Rachel Podger © Theresa Pewal
Proving her “intoxicating combination of power and grace” (Toronto Star) internationally renowned baroque violinist Rachel Podger has established herself as a leading interpreter of the music of the Baroque and Classical periods. Rachel has performed as a soloist and guest director with many of the world’s top ensembles and in 2007 founded her own group Brecon Baroque. 

Yorkshire Bach Choir is very excited to be welcoming Rachel to York on Saturday 23 June in a concert also featuring our performance of the J.S. Bach Motets with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.  Ahead of her appearance we caught up with this busy musician to ask her a range of questions on topics ranging from Bach to her rather large dream dinner party!

We started off by asking Rachel to tell us a bit more about the Bach that she is performing in York....

Peter Seymour and I will be playing 2 of Bach's set of 6 Sonatas for obligato keyboard and violin: c minor BWV1017 and G major BWV1019. These two sonatas are basically trio sonatas but to be performed by 2 players - the keyboard player gets two parts and the violinist one - easy for me! Both hands are written out in the keyboard part as supposed to a 'continuo part' where the player has only the bass part written out and improvises the right hand part according to the harmony code provided by the figures written below the bass part (known as 'figured bass').  

Sonata in c minor starts with a beautiful soulful tune in the violin accompanied by a continuous stream of arpeggios in the keyboard. This is followed by a dense and complex fugue; the material used here is very concentrated and cleverly constructed, you feel like you've witnessed a masterful chess game after playing it! The third movement provides relief in a beautiful comforting and quite mesmerising aria in the relative major key of E flat major. He returns to c minor for the last movement with more fugal figurations and intensity.

The G major Sonata in contrast to the c minor is sunny in nature, written in 5 movements and includes one movement for keyboard alone. Cascades of G major arpeggios and lively figurations move in contrary motion in the joyful and pleasing first movement. The second is a searching largo in e minor leading into the rhythmic keyboard solo in the same key. A chromatic Adagio in b minor follows which at times expresses extreme loneliness and desperation. This is all made good though by the last movement which dances and frolics with sheer delight returning to G major.

You've recently recorded and performed a significant amount of Bach's repertoire for violin.  What is your  experience of Bach's music?

Bach's music has been a steady accompaniment in my life. My first memory of the name 'Bach' being uttered was when I'd been dancing around as a small child to the lovely tune in his Chorale 'Jesus, bleibet meine Freude' or 'Jesu joy of man's desiring' (from the Cantata 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben' BWV 147). My parents always had music on at home, and music making together at home was part of growing up for me. I remember learning to count rests while playing one of the parts of a Bach trio sonata as a child, and then discovering the Bach violin concertos and being desperate to play them as a young teenager. Unfortunately my strict teacher at the time let me know that 'we only play Bach after the age of 40' ! It didn't put me off, and I picked up the music and played it and loved it anyway! 

Bach's music is like nothing else - his music seems utterly complete. Structurally it is so well crafted, the voices and characters in his themes are utterly clear, his articulation signs are full of expression and thoroughly thought out, in short his musical intentions are always clear. There is a strong sense of satisfaction when playing or listening to any music by him, and it's a little like considering a large, healthy and beautiful tree with symmetrical branches but with plenty of interesting and unpredictable shapes and details as well - just all in a perfect natural balance. His music is both exciting and calming, majestic and humble, forceful and tender. It's technically challenging too (I'm thinking about the works for solo violin) and musically you're on a constant discovery trail. The work I found most intensely joyful and which had a profound effect on me playing-wise recently was the Art of Fugue. Representing one voice in this consort of 4, I felt just so at home, and a calm heavenly kind of happiness pervaded all 4 players I think. It was also something about being an essential cog in a wheel which would only turn when all cogs were equally 'in synch'.

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that you haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?

I've been very lucky in that I've played and performed a lot of Bach during my life and career, lots of his instrumental music, all the large works and many of his Cantatas (mostly thanks to that incredible venture by the Royal Academy of Music to perform all Cantatas over 10 years), but there is always more to discover...or to arrange in fact!

As a youngster, did you ever have a eureka moment listening to or performing a certain piece of music?

Yes I did! I remember listening to Bach's Musical Offering at a concert my parents gave when I must have been pretty young (I mostly remember what my mother was wearing!), but the trio sonata from the MO made a huge impact on me. It seemed like the best 'sound' jigsaw. I must have heard my father practicing it at home on the flute beforehand, come to think of it, and I remember wondering how many trills there were in one phrase alone!

Musically, when have you felt the happiest?

When I've either felt complete playing in an ensemble when all players are on there same wave-length and something special kicks in during a performance, and also sometimes during solo recitals when I've felt a sense of awe at the music (this mostly happens when playing Bach).

What was the first ever record or CD you bought?

I think it might have been an LP of the Beatles!! (70's mania indeed!)

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you about music?

That Vivaldi was boring to have written the same concerto x-number of times!

Rachel's recent recording of Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni with Brecon Baroque

If you could travel in a musical time machine to experience a certain period or era in history where and when would you travel to?

Probably Italy in the seventeenth century - the golden era of violin composers and when violinists were experimenting with all sorts of new violinistic tricks and musical ideas. It must have been pretty exciting to be alive then.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

Listening to virtuosic folk-fiddling, Irish, Swedish, Czech, Albanian, Greek, Croatian...

How do you relax?

Hmmm, cooking dinner at home for my family and catching up with our teenagers, going out for dinner, going to the cinema (doesn't happen enough!), stroking and talking to our cat Mietzi who adopted us 13 years ago and has the most beautiful nature.

What is your most treasured possession?

My violin of course, but also a miniature facsimile of Bach's violin solos given to me by my teacher David Takeno after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Oh gosh! Too many dream people to list...How big a table may I have?

Let's see:

Johann Sebastian Bach

Clara Schumann

Charlie Chaplin

Ludwig van Beethoven

Audrey Hepburn

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Signor Antonio Vivaldi

Maya Angelou

Joseph Haydn

Billie Holiday 

(I had Wolfi Mozart in there too, but he'd probably get too drunk too quickly and slide under the table!)...

We look forward to hearing Rachel performing with Peter Seymour at St Michael le Belfrey, York on Saturday 23 June at 7.30pm.  In the same concert Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists will perform J.S. Bach's monumental Motets. 

Further details on the concert and how to buy tickets can be found at:

You can find more information on Rachel Podger at including details of her most recent recordings.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Artist Spotlight - Tenor Jonathan Hanley

Jonathan Hanley is tenor soloist in our upcoming performance of Handel, Vivaldi and Hadyn at the York Early Music Christmas Festival.  Jonathan is a lay clerk at Peterborough Cathedral and pursues both a choral and solo singing career. Over the last year, he has been a member of the prestigious Genesis Sixteen programme for young singers. As a soloist, Jonathan has performed with a number of ensembles, including appearances at the Trame Sonore Chamber Music Festival in Mantua, the Malcolm Arnold Festival, and the Beverley and York Early Music Festivals. Recent repertoire has included Handel Saul and Messiah, Schütz St John Passion, Bach Magnificat, Haydn Creation, Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Monteverdi 1610 Vespers, Malcolm Arnold Song of Simeon, and Beethoven 9th Symphony. He has appeared as a recitalist in programmes of English song and lieder across the country. He is a soloist on a forthcoming CD of Humfrey Verse Anthems with Edward Higginbottom and the Instruments of Time and Truth. Jonathan currently studies with Richard Edgar Wilson.

We began by asking Jonathan to tell us a bit more about performing with Yorkshire Bach Choir...

I started singing with Yorkshire Bach Choir in my first year at university, way back in 2011, and have really enjoyed returning to York to join them since moving to Peterborough 2 years ago. They’re always programmes of fantastic music performed with style and conviction, and it’s really wonderful to come back and perform with such a dedicated and fun bunch!

I’m guessing you’ve sung some of the repertoire before, what do you interests you about this particular piece?

I love all of the music in the programme but the Handel is a particular favourite. I love the Italian influences and its virtuosity – it’s physically thrilling to sing. What I find most interesting about the piece is variety of different choral writing – particularly the semiquaver figures in ‘secundum ordinem Melchisedech’ and the ‘conquasabit’ with all its repeated crotchets. I also think the ‘de torrente’ is one of the most stunning pieces of music. I do think he could’ve added in an extra tenor solo though!

Detail of Handel statue by Louis-François Roubiliac
 What is the hardest thing about performing?

I think the hardest thing about performing is finding the balance between thinking about technique, stagecraft, expression and communication. It’s easy to get wrapped up in one thing, a particular text, for example, which makes the other things slip to the back of your mind - maybe the secret is to have them slip only half way!

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?

There are three things that I would love to sing before I die (!) which are the Evangelist in the Bach St John Passion, Elgar Gerontius and Britten St Nicolas – I was Baby St Nicolas as a chorister and I can remember thinking as I stepped down from the pulpit where I had been singing to let St Nicolas on for the end of the movement that I wanted to sing it.

Who is the composer (dead or alive) that you’d most like to meet?

Benjamin Britten.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t know whether I should be that guilty about it, but every Christmas, I have to listen to ‘Messiah – a Soulful Celebration’. If you don’t know it, have a listen! 

Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration (Various artists)

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?

Probably in the kitchen or watching my latest Netflix obsession.

How do you mostly listen to music?

I’m always plugged into my iPhone when I’m on the move, and have a really good Bose speaker at home which I’m sure annoy my neighbours.

If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?

I went to university originally intending to do a law conversion after my history degree, and I think I would enjoy being a lawyer and arguing for a living!

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I have no idea, but I would like to think it would be Jude Law!

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

As a History graduate, this is an extremely difficult question to answer, but as a medievalist I think I would have to go back to fifteenth-century Europe, but I couldn’t be more specific than that – there would be too much to see!

We look forward to hearing Jonathan as tenor soloist in Handel Dixit Dominus and Haydn Nelson Mass with Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists conducted by Peter Seymour. Vocal soloists include Bethany Seymour, Wendy Goodson (Sopranos), Nancy Cole (Mezzo Soprano) & Frederick Long (Bass).  The programme also includes Vivaldi Gloria.

The concert takes place on Saturday 9 December 7.30pm at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

The concert is part of the York Early Music Festival.

A handful of final tickets for the concert are available in advance via 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Yorkshire Bach Choir 2017-18: Masterpieces and miniatures

We are thrilled to announce full details of our 2017-18 concert season! Join us for a year of music packed with beautiful music.

Along with performing some real highlights of the choral repertoire we explore some new concert themes and programmes of music. Here are details of each of our six concerts coming up in 2017/18.

In the Midst of Life: 28.10.17

Our opening concert showcases some real peaks of not just in music but of art in the entire Renaissance period. The extraordinary 40-part motet Spem in alium is the first of four Renaissance choral masterpieces that all engage with and often soar above the troubles of their times. Sheppard’s haunting In Media Vita (‘In the midst of life we are in death’) is a haunting exploration of various texts, including the Nunc Dimittis. The dark splendour of Allegri’s renowned Miserere and Byrd’s mournful Ne irascaris, Domine will also feature alongside music by Tallis, Jeffreys and Ludwig Senfl.

For tickets click here >> 

Handel, Vivaldi, Haydn: 9.12.17

This colourful programme features some of the 18th century’s most popular and invigorating music for chorus and instruments. Handel’s vivid setting of Dixit Dominus, composed during his stay in Italy, is one of his most virtuosic and impressive choral compositions. Vivaldi’s colourful Gloria pulsates with festive Venetian energy and is his best known, most popular, choral work. Haydn’s Nelson Mass is possibly his most electrifying and atmospheric mass settings, taking us on a musical journey where dark anxiety is dissolved in joyful triumph.

Tickets are selling quickly for what promises to be a choral highlight of the York Early Christmas Music Festival.

For tickets click here >>

Stories in Glass: Music for the Great East Window 4.02.18

2018 will see the completion of the restoration of York Minster’s iconic Great East Window. Marking this landmark in the life of the city we present music inspired by stained glass and the wider history of York. Events depicted in the window, such as the Death of Absalom with settings of When David heard by Tomkins and Weelkes, and scenes from Revelation, are included. The concert ends with an unabashed celebration of the celestial with Harris’s wonderful Faire is the Heaven and the life-affirming properties of light in Wood’s ecstatic Hail, gladdening light.

For tickets click here >>

Bach: St John Passion: 17.03.18

The Passio Secundum Johannem may be Bach’s most inherently dramatic passion setting. Telling the story of Christ’s sacrifice, it also offers a celebration of human feeling in evoking the joy and suffering of man’s pilgrimage on earth. The vivid, colourful playing of the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists will be joined by Joshua Ellicott and Peter Harvey two outstanding solo interpreters of the roles of Evangelist and Christus.

Book early for what promises to be a highlight of musical life in York in 2018!  

For tickets click here >>

Three Marys: 19.05.18

Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the other biblical Marys were the focus of an extraordinary flowering of art during the Renaissance period. Composers were part of this movement, exploring the lives of the Marys in music that ranges from the deeply sacred to the sensual. This concert explores events from the anointing at Bethany to a grieving Mary at the foot of the cross. We will perform music including Palestrina Missa Assumpta est Maria, Guerrero Maria Magdalena, Sheppard Gaude gaude guade Maria and Stabat Mater settings by Palestrina, Padilla and Browne.

For tickets click here >>

Bach Motets & Rachel Podger: 23.06.18

JS Bach’s motets represent some of his most beautiful and mesmerising musical compositions. Each motet is crafted with complete originality and skill using a dizzying range of choral techniques, from double-choir sonorities to canon, fugue and counterpoint, to explore their deeply felt and varied texts. Complementing this choral feast Yorkshire Bach Choir is pleased to welcome Rachel Podger, a musician who has been described as ‘the queen of the baroque violin’, performing some of Bach’s most wonderful music for violin and harpsichord.

For tickets click here >>

Tickets and further details

Full details of ticket prices and season subscriptions can be found on our website. You can save money across the season by subscribing for one of our season tickets. £5 student tickets are available.  

Further details on Yorkshire Bach Choir:
Yorkshire Baroque Soloists:

All our concerts (except for the December concert at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall) are performed in the spacious St Michael le Belfrey a historic church in the heart of the city.

 YBC Concert reminder service:

Twitter: @YorksBachChoir 
Facebook: Yorkshire Bach Choir

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Yorkshire Bach Choir is auditioning for our new season!

Join Yorkshire Bach Choir

Yorkshire Bach Choir is always interested in hearing potential new members - we are currently auditioning for all sections of the choir in the run up to our new season.

Is Yorkshire Bach Choir the choir for me?

Yorkshire Bach Choir comprises around 45 voices and performs music mainly from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical period so an interest (and enthusiasm) for this repertoire is helpful. We regularly perform vocal music in an historically-informed style with our specialist accompanying orchestra the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. You will need a good, well-produced voice that blends with the current group of singers. Subject to vacancies, membership is open to anyone who has the ability to contribute at the choir’s core standards of high performance, regardless of any other factors. Current membership is a mix of professional, semi-professional and other advanced singers with about a third of the choir being students; some members travel quite a distance to sing with the choir.

What does being a member involve?

We have a programme of around six concerts each year. We rehearse intensively on Friday evenings between 7-9.30pm for about 30 weeks of the year.  Members are expected to make a commitment to attend all rehearsals and concerts unless there are exceptional circumstances.  This is essential in order that we maintain the high standards for which we are renowned. We usually perform on a Saturday evening with mandatory rehearsals on the Friday night and Saturday afternoon prior to this concert. All choir members are expected to contribute to membership via a subscription system which currently stands at £153 per year for standard members or £51 per year for student members (although any difficulty with this would be viewed sympathetically and you can split your payment over the year in 3 installments). 

What can I expect at an audition?

If you are interested in auditioning please email our conductor Peter Seymour <> with a short email introducing yourself, your singing experience, an indication of your voice type and suggested times that you might be available for an audition. Peter will then arrange an audition. As part of the audition you will be asked to sing 10-15’ prepared music and your vocal range will be gauged. 

Rehearsals for the first concert start on Friday 29 September so an early audition is advised. 

You can find out more information on the choir and our upcoming season at   

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Peter if you require further information!

Peter Seymour <>

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Artist spotlight - Baritone Frederick Long

Frederick Long is soloist in our upcoming performance of J.S. Bach Mass in B minor on Saturday 18 MarchFrederick is establishing himself as one of Britain’s most exciting and versatile young bass-baritones. Recent operatic highlights include Schaunard in La bohème for Opera Holland Park, Puck in a new version of  Purcell's The Fairy Queen at the Iford Arts Festival. Frederick's substantial and varied concert repertory sees him in frequent performance across the country and abroad, with recent highlights including the Matthew Passion at the Leith Hill Music Festival and Messiah with the English Festival Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. 2017 sees his first Papageno, for Mid-Wales Opera, and a return to the Iford Arts festival for Schaunard (La bohème) and Zebul (Jephtha). 

Catching up with Frederick in advance of our upcoming concert we began by asking him for his thoughts on J.S. Bach: 

It's always such a pleasure to perform Bach. His music has a directness of expression that is quite startling at times, combined with the richness and complexity that rewards continued study and investment. He can be pretty fun with his vocal writing too: often long, wide-ranging phrases with little room for breath.

Are there any particular challenges in this work?

Performing the bass solos in the B minor Mass requires you to wear two rather contrasting hats, as the movements would have originally been sung by different members of his choir. The famous Quoniam is a majestic aria whose long lines and low setting are suited to a lyric bass. However the gently rocking Et in Spiritum Sanctum is set in a much brighter, baritonal register. Luckily there's usually an interval in between to tighten one's belt!

Section of Et in Spiritum Sanctum from autograph score of Bach Mass in B minor

Musically, when have you felt the happiest?

Hearing Howells' Requiem for the first time was a revelation, in a choir right at the beginning of my university career. Being part of the Glyndebourne chorus that took Billy Budd to New York was outrageous fun. Still it's hard to beat singing Noel Coward with family round the piano at home!

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that you haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?

Mozart's Figaro is a role I know well, and have been lucky enough to cover for English National Opera, but never actually yet performed. The challenge for us young-ish bass-baritones is to find parts which suit us both vocally and physically: often composers will use lower voices for the old baddy or pater familias. Not so with the fresh-faced Figaro, and hey, it's the title role in the best opera ever!

Frederick as Schaunard in La Bohème, Opera Holland Park With Shaun Dixon Credit: Robert Workman

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

I was brought up on the Beach Boys and they're the soundtrack to my every summer. I'm also an unashamed fan of certain Disney scores. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is an overlooked masterpiece, and yes, I love Frozen too.

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?

Last year my wife (soprano Emily Vine) finally convinced me that we needed a dog in our lives. Of course I'm now pathetically in love with our Cavalier King Charles puppy. When we're not in the park with Smee, I'll be in the pub trying not to lose my voice shouting at Man United.

What keeps you awake at night?

Unfamiliar beds and lumpy pillows. Obviously there are wonderful perks to life travelling around as a singer, but that ain't one! 

What would your super power be?

Mind-reading. Terribly useful for audition panels...

Were you always destined to become a musician?

Everyone knows you'd be mad to try and make a career out of classical music, and this was the received wisdom despite a distinct musical bent to my family. I read music at university still very much with a law conversion course in mind, until a "see what happens" audition for London colleges resulted in an unexpected place at the Royal Academy. That was nearly ten years ago!

We look forward to hearing Frederick Long as bass soloist in JS Bach: Mass in B minor with Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists conducted by Peter Seymour. Vocal soloists include Bethany Seymour (Soprano), Anna Huntley (Mezzo Soprano) & Jason Darnell (Tenor).

The concert takes place on Saturday 18 March 7.30pm at St Michael le Belfrey, York.

In advance of the concert Peter Seymour will be giving a pre-concert talk on composition and communication in Bach’s mass.  The talk takes place at 6pm at the Belfry Hall, 52a Stongegate and is free for ticket holders for the concert.

Tickets for the concert are available in advance via 

Further details about Frederick can be found at

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Artist Spotlight - Oboist Anthony Robson

Recognised as an international leader in the field of historical oboe performance Anthony Robson is a long-standing member of Yorkshire Baroque Soloists.  As an orchestral musician, chamber musician and soloist he has appeared with leading period orchestras including the English Baroque Soloists, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Collegium Musicum 90. His discography of solo performance includes complete recordings of oboe concerti of JS Bach and Albinoni which have received considerable critical acclaim. 

We began naturally with JS Bach and asking Tony for his take on his work...

It’s the sheer genius of it all, in the case of the choral works it’s the 
complete understanding of the text and how he picks the 
instrumentation and thematic subject to suit. I also love his idiomatic 
instrumental writing, he obviously had some sensational players at his 

What do you most enjoy about performing in York?

Who wouldn’t enjoy performing in York? I’m a Yorkshireman born and 
bred, it’s always nice to come home, and St Michael le Belfrey [where Yorkshire Baroque Soloists often perform] is the ideal venue for baroque music.  

What is the hardest thing about performing?

I find that the most difficult thing is being too hard on oneself, when you 
feel that you might not have delivered your best (it sometimes happens 
we’re only human !) and you feel you have let your fellow musicians and 
the composer down. The tiniest mishaps like a missed note can be so 
devastating but one has to think of the bigger picture or it would become 
impossible to survive. Having high standards can be so detrimental to 
expression, you have to find a way to get through that barrier so that you 
can really fly and express what you feel in your heart, what the 
composer is trying to convey, and how you can get the audience in the 
palm of your hand and take them on that journey. 

Tony coaching York's Minster Minstrels at the NCEM as part of the 

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Anthem project

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?

I always regret the fact that I never got to play the Swan Lake ballet of 
Tchaikovsky, and it’s certainly too late now ! It was hearing the exquisite 
solo at the start of the second act that led me to take up the oboe at the 
age of 11. I remember telling my daughter my regret and her reply was 
‘Oh Dad, that solo was made for you !’ 

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?

I like to come up to Yorkshire whenever I can and spend time with my 
partner who lives near Haworth, luckily I get to do that a lot ! We enjoy 
pootling about in Yorkshire and the Lake District and drink a lot of beer ! 

If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?

None, I simply can’t imagine ever having been anything but ! 

How do you mostly listen to music?

Well to be honest, I don’t much, I might occasionally think, ‘I haven’t 
heard Mahler 4 in a while’ and pop on a CD but generally I don’t ‘take 
my work home’ because it’s so inferior an experience than actually 
performing music. 

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I’d love to sit at table with Bach and Handel and find out if they got along 
at all !
Bach and Handel: Good dinner guests?

We look forward to hearing Anthony playing oboe for the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists in JS Bach: Magnificat & Cantata BWV 140 Wachet Auf (Sleepers, wake) and CPE Bach: Magnificat with Yorkshire Bach Choir and conducted by Peter Seymour. 

Vocal soloists include Bethany Seymour (Soprano), Wendy Goodson (Soprano), Rachel Lancaster (Alto), Solomon Hayes (Alto), Jason Darnell (Tenor) & Gareth Brynmor John (Baritone).

The concert takes place on Saturday 10 December 7.30pm at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

Tickets are available in advance via 

The concert is part of the York Early Christmas Festival 2016

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Artist spotlight - Baritone Gareth Brynmor John

Gareth Brynmor John - Photo credit Robert Workman

Gareth Brynmor John is soloist in our upcoming performance of JS Bach and CPE Bach at the York Early Music Christmas Festival. Winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award, baritone Gareth Brynmor John studied at St John’s College, Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music where, in his final year, he won the Royal Academy of Music Patrons’ Award. He recently studied at the National Opera Studio where he was supported by the Royal Opera House, Richard Carne Trust, and Chris Ball. He will make his debut with Welsh National Opera singing Schaunard (La Bohème) in Spring 2017.

We caught up with Gareth and asked him some questions about his life as a musician.

What do you most enjoy about performing in York?
I love coming to York. My wife studied English at the University and I visited every fortnight for three years. It brings back very happy memories.

What is the hardest thing about performing?
Often a performance could be the culmination of several weeks (or even months) work. You want to show the audience your best work, and that delivering that can be stressful.

How do you prepare for performing this kind of repertoire?
Music of this era is often fast moving with lots of runs. It requires the voice to be agile, and the brain to know where it is going. There are no shortcuts. It takes time.

Detail from the autograph score of CPE Bach: Magnificat

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?
As a singer, our instrument is part of our bodies and it carries on changing as we get older. Some of the bigger operatic repertoire isn't right for my voice yet, but I would love to sing some Verdi at some point.

Which living musician do you most admire?
Daniel Barenboim as both a musician and a performer. And because he's not scared to believe that making music can be a practical force for good in the world.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?
Mariah Carey...

How do you mostly listen to music?
I don't find music that relaxing to have on in the background, so mostly, I deliberately sit down and listen to music on a stereo at home. I suppose I'm lucky that I have time in the day to do that.

If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?
I think in another life, I would like to be an engineer. It seems like their work can be so varied, and exciting. The benefits of the work they do are very tangible as well.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Colin Firth obviously - can't you see the resemblance? (sigh)

What keeps you awake at night?
Listening to old trashy Radio 4 sitcoms on BBC iPlayer - you can't beat them. That and my two year old daughter!

We look forward to hearing Gareth singing alongside other soloists Bethany Seymour (Soprano), Wendy Goodson (Soprano), Rachel Lancaster (Alto) Solomon Hayes (Alto) & Jason Darnell (Tenor) in JS Bach: Magnificat & Cantata BWV 140 Wachet Auf (Sleepers, wake) and CPE Bach: Magnificat. Accompanied by Yorkshire Baroque Soloists and conducted by Peter Seymour

Saturday 10 December 7.30pm at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

Tickets are available in advance via 

The concert is part of the York Early Christmas Festival 2016

 Further details on Gareth can be found on his website: