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21 October 2016

Creating a concert - James Gilchrist directs

Our Milton Court season is underway!  A packed concert hall welcomed James Gilchrist to the stage last night as he performed a selection of works by JS Bach and Purcell alongside the AAM.  We spoke to James to find out just how he and co-director Pavlo Beznosiuk put the programme for the concert together:

This programme has come out of the meeting of two streams. The first is the AAM's own Purcell season, which has already begun. The second is a desire for us to do some Bach together. The two Bach cantatas we're presenting date from Bach's early Leipzig years when he undertook to present cantatas in cycles for each Sunday throughout the year. They both meditate on death, but with remarkably differing viewpoints. Both cantatas are full of music of the highest quality and are deeply, deeply moving. And both involve a flute in prominent position, deliciously duetting with the voice….

We wanted to weave a tapestry of songs and dances from Purcell … to offer a lighter moment in the programme! Purcell's short working life was less church-bound than Bach's so perhaps any link is in mood and emotion rather than theology.  We find ourselves in the secular court and on the stage as well as in church, as we hear music from a variety of sources - odes, Orpheus Britannicus, Dioclesian, and harmonia sacra. Themes of night, the power of love, hope and fear, move us from secular to sacred through a linked series of songs and instrumental works. The songs unashamedly include some that I love the most (the Sparrow and the gentle dove) and finish with the long dramatic Lord, what is man?

There’s still one more chance to catch this concert, on Monday 24 October at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge.
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