Blog / Choral Music for Christmas

Choral Music for Christmas

Posted on 13 Dec 2018 by ACO

Richard Tognetti conduting the Choir of London

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir will join us in February as we open our 2019 Season with Arvo Pärt & JS Bach, a program of choral music from two of the ACO’s favourite composers.

As we enter the festive season in the lead-up to 2019, here are two monumental choral works written by these towering artists in celebration of Christmas.

Whether as a soundtrack for your Christmas morning or a playlist for relaxation, we hope you enjoy these blissful choral expressions of the season.

JS Bach – Christmas Oratorio

Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ is a celebration of Christmas at an epic scale.

Intended for performance across the six days in the lead-up to Christmas and Epiphany, the Oratorio is now more often performed in a one marathon sitting, with six brilliant cantatas unfolding over three hours.

Only last year we were joined by the Choir of London to tackle the Oratorio in a sold-out national tour. While we haven’t released a recording from this collaboration, ABC Classic will be broadcasting their own archived recording of the performance at midday on 23 December, making a perfect pre-Christmas afternoon.


Arvo Pärt - Seven Magnificat Antiphons

While dwarfed in scale by Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Arvo Pärt’s ‘Seven Magnificant Antiphons’ is an evocative, all-consuming journey through the traditional story of Christmas in seven short sections.

Written just after Pärt’s relocation to Germany, the seven-part piece for mixed choir uses the German-language antiphons of the Magnificat at Vespers - evening masses that traditionally occur in the week leading up to Christmas Eve.

Spiritual, moving and characteristically ambient, the Antiphons create a distinct personality and feeling for each section of the pre-Christmas Liturgy, resulting in a journey through the season that feels monumental in spite of its modest length.

In this release, the Antiphons are followed by the Berliner Messe, which will feature in our 2019 Season opening tour.  

We hope these powerful pieces bring you joy over the festive season. If you would like to join the ACO in the concert hall as they perform the music of these two composers, you can learn more about our opening program Arvo Pärt & JS Bach via the link below.

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