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St Johns Southgate

12 Jun 2012

In the space of just two months the church at the heart of Southbank will offer performances by one of Australia’s most promising Bach tenors, an internationally renowned Australian oboist and the artist recognised as the world’s best Bach tenor.

As part of its rich Bach cantata program, on July 29 St Johns will present at its 9 am service Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich den (BWV 157), a cantata for two soloists, strings, oboe, flute and continuo, featuring tenor Robert Macfarlane, bass Jerzy Kozlowski and oboist Geoffrey Burgess. St Johns head of music Graham Lieschke will direct the performance.

Mr Macfarlane is the first St Johns Bach Scholar and his promise will shortly take him, courtesy of a South Australian Government scholarship, to Leipzig, Germany, for a period of study at the prestigious Mendelssohn Hochschule.

Mr Burgess, who comes from Sydney, is with American Bach Soloists, and has played baroque oboe around the world to great acclaim for more than two decades.  He was a key figure in the early-instrument revival in Australia and is now based in Philadelphia in the United States.

Also part of the service on July 29 will be Bach’s Kyrie in F Major (BWV 233), performed by St Johns’ own Bach choir.

In contrast to the intimate nature of the July program, the cantata to be performed the following month, on August 26, is big and bold and will feature one of the biggest names possible, Martin Petzold.

Mr Petzold, who is rated the world number one  Bach tenor, will be at St Johns for Die Elenden sollen essen (BWV 75), a cantata for four soloists, chorus, strings, two oboes, trumpet and continuo.

His Melbourne visit, which is being organised by the German Church, East Melbourne, is for the Bach@Trinity 2012 Festival and his appearance at St Johns is a great opportunity for lovers of the choral music of JS Bach.

Himself a former student at the Mendelssohn Hochshule, Mr Petzold has appeared in leading concert venues across the world in guest concerts and opera performances, has performed in numerous TV and radio broadcasts and has a substantial discography.

His visit to Southbank underscores the richness of the music program at St Johns and its role in worship services. The cantata program under Dr Lieschke’s direction is constantly evolving and there is promise of a great deal more to come.

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