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Bach Easter Oratorio

Olivier Award-winner Peter Whelan directs Bach’s Easter Oratorio, a piece that packs a breathtaking mix of public celebration, personal devotion and tight psychological drama.
London, Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall £15 - £64 (Premium £85) Book now

Music & Guest Artists


Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (Rejoice, you hearts) BWV 66
Bleib bei uns, denn es qill Abend werden (Stay with us, for evening falls) BWV 6
Oster-Oratorium (Easter Oratorio) BWV 249


Peter Whelan director
Miriam Allan soprano
Rebecca Leggett mezzo-soprano
Ruairi Bowen tenor
Malachy Frame baritone
Choir of the Age of Enlightenment

Pre-concert Talk

At 6.00pm in the QEH Foyer with Peter Whelan in conversation with Hannah French.

Bach’s Easter music offers a joyous contrast to the intense grief of the Passions. The sombre, penitential tones are immediately conquered by the burst of trumpets, timpani and resounding alleluias of thanks.

The soloists for this concert will feature the new cohort of our Rising Stars of the Enlightenment scheme for singers. 

The Easter Oratorio, composed in 1725, is an extended cantata that displays Bach’s consummate skill as a storyteller. The dash of running feet, the uncertainty of the empty tomb and the adrenalin rush of realising Jesus has risen from the dead are all brought vivdly to life through his infinite musical invention. After a boisterous opening, we are pitched into the drama of the disciples – represented by the quartet of soloists – with heartfelt arias for the two Marys (soprano and alto) and Peter (tenor) reflecting on their fears and hopes.

Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (BWV 66) dates from 1724, the same year as the St John Passion premiered, being performed on the Monday after Easter. As always, Bach expresses a depth of emotion – the spirited opening chorus and a fleet-footed bass aria being followed by a more reflective duet for alto and tenor. Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, composed for Easter Monday in 1725, is imbued with duskier tones. Set on the road to Emmaus the uncertainty of the disciples journey away from Jerusalem provides Bach the dramatist with opportunities for unusual colourings and sharp word-painting.      


Part of Southbank Centre Season 2023/24.

Download and read the programme here Easter Oratorio programme FINAL

Download a ‘Text and Translation’ sheet here Text and Translation Easter Oratorio FINAL FINAL