Bach Christmas Oratorio - Australian Chamber Orchestra

Bach Christmas Oratorio

15 - 16 December 2013


BACH Christmas Oratorio


Richard Tognetti Director and Lead Violin
Choir of London

This Christmas, come and hear Bach's joyful telling of the Christmas story. The Christmas Oratorio comprises six cantatas, each depicting a scene from Christ's birth. 

Richard Tognetti directs from the lead violin with his trademark infectious vigour. Those who attended our recent Beethoven 9 concerts will attest to Richard's captivating ability to marshal orchestral and choral forces. A review in The Australian read: "...simply a triumph. Intoxicating and exhilarating, this [was] a performance for the history books." 

We are joined by acclaimed singers from the Choir of London who are hand-picked from Britain's leading choral baroque specialists, professional choirs and opera companies.

These performances of the Christmas Oratorio in the week before Christmas are an event not to be missed.

Each performance is approximately three and a half hours long, inlcuding a one hour interval at aproximately 7.45pm. For interval dining options, please see below:

Canberra dining options: Biginelli Espresso café (located on level 5 of Llewellyn Hall) will be open during interval and will have their standard café menu available including paninis, salad rolls, banana bread and muffins. The Llewellyn Hall bar will also be open for alcohol, soft drinks, chips and chocolate.

Melbourne dining options: Arts Centre Melbourne have prepared two food and beverage options for the one-hour interval. Dining packages and bookings.

Sydney dining options: Sydney Opera House's Studio Café has prepared a dinner package including one-course and a glass of wine for $32. Bookings and details at or phone 9250 7868. 


This program replaces the previously billed Christmas Oratorio with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir.


The Age

"Great art does not fit into soundbites. It may have been a brave gesture on the part of Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra to roll up Bach's Christmas Oratorio...into one mega-concert...but it was an astute one: the audience had no trouble digesting this glorious feast."

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Canberra Times

"This performance of the Christmas Oratorio was a triumph of the enduring genius of Bach. It was also momentous celebration of Tognetti as a musician who has created a significant cultural identity with his ACO on the world stage and who continues to bring
music of the highest international quality to Canberra."

The Australian

"Forget Christmas shopping and your holiday at the beach – one of the best investments you could make this summer would be a ticket to hear this concert. This is the ACO at its very best. With Richard Tognetti conducting…the orchestra has finished the year on a superlative high."

The Age

"The unfamiliar sounds were a real treat, in particular the quartet of oboes in the second cantata, BWV248/2, and volatile but thrilling hunting horns."

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Daily Review (Crikey)

"Just as ACO soloists and principal chairs exude individuality in their playing, these singers, even within the same vocal range, paint from a diverse palette adding immensely to the character and drama of the work."

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Audience Feedback

"What a wonderful concert! One the best musical evenings I have had."

"Words hardly begin to describe the utter delight I experienced, along with thousands of others in the Opera House. The orchestra was in exceptional form, expressing Bach’s music with outstanding dynamics, each section and soloist giving their utmost to this beautiful work. The London Choir – among who many are outstanding soloists – delighted the audience from the first chorus to the last, and clearly enjoyed their experience with you. Your own interpretations of some of Bach’s most exquisite passages were utterly breathtaking, leaving me and countless others in a state of serenity. To you, the ACO, the Choir and to the magnificent JS Bach, the experience was one of the most memorable I have enjoyed here at home or elsewhere around the globe. Many thanks to each and every one of you for sharing your gifts and for keeping Australian audiences in awe."

"Last night I sat in the Hamer Hall and heard and watched you eclipse everything I had seen and heard in over 15+ years of ACO concert seasons..."

"Congratulations to the ACO and The London Choir for such a breathtaking performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. I've not heard anything finer. I attended the performance in Canberra and have just listened to the live broadcast on ABCFM radio. Superb."

"To Richard, his team of instrumentalists, the Choir and its several soloists (esp. Nicholas Mulroy): a huge thank you for providing such a stunning performance in Melbourne last night. It has absolutely provided my greatest musical experience leading up to any Christmas in all my 82 years. Neil Brough, Benoit Laurent and the continuo team (esp. Neal and Timo) were exceptional and Richard's violin (plus duo with Helena) and conducting were superb... Thanks again for such a moving performance of this glorious music of Johann Sebastian Bach."

"I was privileged to experience the performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Melbourne last Thursday... There are so many wonderful musical memories – the choral work, the Evangelist (indeed all the soloists; so good to hear such clear, ‘unsentimental’ voices), the oboes and the trumpets, the way Richard Tognetti conducted/shaped the choruses... Mmmm, musically delicious!"

"Truly a triumph: an exhilarating performance of a masterpiece. Tognetti's Bach never fails to engage the mind, often rousing the spirit and moving the heart too; all par excellence on this occasion.
Need one say more?  Yes, to pay tribute to the staying power of the ensemble, whose performance never flagged or dragged throughout the musical marathon.  Particular plaudits to those performers almost constantly on call: Neal Peres da Costa, Timo-Veikko Valve, Maxime Bibeau, Nicholas Mulroy, above all Richard Tognetti, for whom there was no 'almost'!
What an admirable concept the Choir of London is, not least in demonstrating that so many soloists in their own right can blend together as an exemplary choir and, to judge from their expressive demeanour, do so with joyful enthusiasm.  A perfect complement for the ACO.
Unfair as it is to single out highlights, the lovely aria sung by Fiona Campbell to Richard Tognetti's accompaniment was poignantly exquisite; the trio aria with trio accompaniment is surely Bach at his contrapuntal best; and how could one ever forget the thrilling trumpet-led finale to the concluding chorale?  All in all, a scintillating evening and a memorable end to the ACO year, thanks to all concerned."
"Congratulations on such a life giving and invigorating performance."

Selected Audio