Holy Week Festival 2021
A Moment of Stillness from the Heart of the City
Every year, Tenebrae and St John's Smith Square come together to present their annual Holy Week Festival. Showcasing some of the world’s finest ensembles, the week-long programme celebrates the vast range of music composed for Lent and Easter. Following the cancellation of our 2020 festival due to the pandemic, this year we’re taking a specially designed collection of unique performances and atmospheric liturgical events online, free for everyone to enjoy.
We need your help to raise £12,000, supporting the festival’s world-class musicians and covering the costs of recording and presenting them at the festival's home, St. John’s Smith Square in Westminster. The festival’s ethos, a ‘moment of stillness’, has never been so important. Born from Tenebrae’s director Nigel Short’s past experience as a musician at Easter dashing across London from services to concerts, it now takes on a different meaning. This year, Holy Week Festival provides all of us with the opportunity to reflect, from our enforced stillness, and enjoy a range of outstanding performances.
Festival Highlights - recorded live at St John's Smith Square
- The Tenebrae Choir: Palm Sunday performance featuring music by Byrd, Weelkes and Poulenc
- Bach: Chorales and Partita No. 2 in D Minor
- Haydn: string quartet The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross
- Follow the moving and devotional sequence of Tenebrae liturgical settings and responses performed by candlelight with cleric-in-residence Graham Buckle across Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday - including Allegri's iconic Miserere mei, Deus
Why we need your help
Ongoing restrictions have made recent months extremely challenging for venues and performing artists. We would normally welcome around 5,000 audience members to St John’s Smith Square during the week-long festival, but at present this is sadly not possible. This year, we are working hard to ensure the Holy Week Festival can survive and reach even more people by making the performances available free of charge, for everyone to enjoy all over the world. We are committed to supporting and providing key performance opportunities for our musicians, all of whom have had their income decimated over the last 12 months, with nearly all of their work cancelled and very little opportunity to practise the art that is central to their lives. With no box office income this year, your support is vital if we are to make this year’s programme a reality and secure the festival’s future.
Described as “phenomenal” (The Times) and “devastatingly beautiful” (Gramophone Magazine), award-winning choir Tenebrae is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, renowned for its core values of passion and precision. Founded by director Nigel Short in 2001, the choir’s busy concert schedule sees it perform across the globe, appearing regularly at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls. It has enjoyed collaborations with leading orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and the Academy of Ancient Music, and is a dedicated advocate for new music, regularly commissioning new works. Tenebrae has twice secured the award for Best Choral Performance in the BBC Music Magazine Awards (2012 and 2016), and in 2018 it received its first Grammy nomination.
Alongside its touring schedule, Tenebrae runs a thriving outreach programme, working with its education partners London Youth Choir and Music Centre London. Since 2017, it has collaborated with St John’s Smith Square on the annual Holy Week Festival, celebrating the wealth of music composed for the time of Lent and Easter.
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About St. John’s Smith Square
St John’s Smith Square is a significant musical landmark, playing host to today’s leading international artists, who perform inspiring and exciting programmes. So, too, is it an architectural landmark, and part of a baroque landscape that’s quintessentially London. A unique music venue in central London and a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture, St John’s was designed and built by Thomas Archer and has survived fire, lightning, bomb plots and the Blitz. Operated by an independent charity with no regular public subsidy, the beauty of the building is matched by an exceptional acoustic. From its restoration as both church and concert hall in the late 1960s, St John’s has presented some of the finest classical talent in a programme featuring choirs, chamber orchestras and period instrument groups.
Please make a pledge now in lieu of a ticket(s) and help us spread the word by sharing this campaign on social media using #HolyWeekFestival and mentioning @StJohnsSmithSq and @TenebraeChoir
Thank you for your support and for making #HolyWeekFestival 2021 a reality!