Artist director Stephen Layton has promised that this year’s St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festival, running from 13 to 23 December, will be ‘an oasis of focus, stillness and calm’.

The twenty-eighth St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festival will open with a concert of seasonal baroque pieces performed by The Choir of King’s College London, including Tallis, Sheppard and Schütz’s A Christmas Story.

Highlights include performances from The Tallis Scholars, who round off their fortieth-anniversary celebrations for the year with a concert on 19 December entitled ‘Beata es Virgo Maria’; The Cardinall’s Musick will feature at the festival on 20 December with ‘Angels and Archangels’ – a programme exploring the role of angels in the Christmas story. Oxford Baroque also make a return after their debut at last year’s festival, with a historically informed performance of Bach’s Magnificat (BWV 243a) as well as pieces by Gabrieli, Kuhnau and Franck.

The festival will also include performances from The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford; The Brabant Ensemble and Ex Cathedra. Polyphony will close the festival on 23 December with the festival’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, conducted by the festival’s artistic director Stephen Layton and featuring the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as well as soloists Iestyn Davies, James Gilchrist, Katherine Watson and Neal Davies.

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