Star soprano, Elin Manahan Thomas, is to join the critically-acclaimed choir and ensemble, Armonico Consort, and Director Christopher Monks as soloist on a six-date tour of Bach’s final masterpiece, his Mass in B minor.
The internationally-renowned soprano and baroque specialist, who sang at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, describes the B minor Mass as “my favourite piece to sing”.
Never performed complete in his lifetime, the Mass in B minor was Bach’s final major composition, scattered with music and references that he considered to be his best work, or movements which he had allowed to develop over time and had returned to ‘perfect’ at a later date.
“The B minor Mass is without doubt my very favourite thing to sing,” says Elin Manahan Thomas, “it moves effortlessly and beautifully between the grand and solemn, to the brash and gleeful, to the intimate and hushed.”
A devout Lutheran Protestant, enigma surrounds Bach’s plan to write a full Catholic mass. The Kyrie and Gloria were first performed in 1733; other parts were written in the 1740s, but it is not known whether Bach actually intended the individual settings to be performed together as a complete Mass.
The music, however, speaks for itself as Christopher Monks, Armonico Consort’s Artistic Director explained: “The work is, in effect, Bach’s own self-obituary, how he wanted to be remembered by the world. If you have never heard it live, this is one concert you absolutely must not miss.”
Armonico Consort’s top professional singers will step out from the choir to take solo roles and the orchestra will play on instruments of the period to give an insight into Bach’s soundworld.
Elin Manahan Thomas has partnered with Armonico Consort many times over the years in repertoire, ranging from baroque to contemporary, most recently in Beowulf by Armonico’s composer-in-residence, Toby Young.
Armonico Consort’s tour of Bach’s Mass in B minor begins at Lighthouse, Poole on Friday 31 January and continues to Warwick (1 February), Malvern (8 February), Yeovil (11 February) and Cardiff (6 March), concluding at London’s St John’s, Smith Square on Easter Sunday (12 April) as part of its Holy Week Festival. Details from www.armonico.org.uk.