Good Friday performance from Chichester’s lay vicars

The men of Chichester Cathedral Choir will be marking Easter in style with a special performance of J S Bach’s St John Passion.

Going under the name Chichester Baroque Choir and Players, the lay vicars will be joined in the cathedral by soloists under the musical direction of Chichester Cathedral organist Charles Harrison for the performance on Good Friday, April 3 at 7.30pm.

The lay vicars

The lay vicars

A retiring collection will help offset the costs of the night which is free admission. The evening is something the lay vicars have been contemplating for some time: “It is going to be a devotional performance, free to attend, no tickets needed - just the eight of us with the two soloists and a small orchestra largely made up of postgraduate students from the Royal Academy of Music.

“The Bach is such a super piece, and we are an unusually-young Cathedral Choir at the moment.”

Five of the six of them are aged between 22 and 26: “And we are all very passionate about music. We all love singing, and we decided we would love to do a performance that was just a little bit different. We were looking to do something around this time, and we just couldn’t think of anything better than Bach’s St John Passion in Chichester Cathedral. Everyone at the Cathedral has got behind it. The singers are all giving their time for free, and it has been supported by Chichester Cathedral Friends. As it is Good Friday, we hope it will really add to the Cathedral’s offering for the day.”

The night will also feature Stefan Kennedy as the Evangelist, Basil McDonald as Christus and Alexander Dance as Pilate, with soloists from the choir. The challenge will be to make a large-scale piece work using much more intimate forces: “We are hoping the orchestra will help in that respect. There will be 15 of them, recruited through a contact of ours. Several of our singers were at Cambridge for university, and a professor there put us in touch with some of these players.

“It was just before Christmas when we started thinking about it. Because we are so passionate about music-making we want to be doing it as much as possible. We started discussing this, and it just all continued from there. There is obviously the option to do more. We will just have to see how it goes. I think the Cathedral Choir as a whole, including the boy choristers, wants to do more. We will just have to see how it all goes.”

The performance will mark the conclusion of Will’s first year in the city. A former organ scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, he was briefly at Gloucester Cathedral after graduating, before coming to Chichester a year ago: “I love it here. I am very much enjoying what I am doing. I will just have to see what opportunities come my way, but I really love it in Chichester. It is a great city to work in, with a lovely cathedral and a lovely community around it.”