Choir premieres reconstructed Bach masterpiece

St Mark Passion

Birmingham Bach Choir performs reconstruction of JS Bach’s lost 200-year-old choral work. 

A ‘lost’ work by the great 18th century German composer Johann Sebastian Bach receives its first ever West Midlands performance on Saturday 11 March 2017, at Lichfield Cathedral.

Entitled St Mark Passion, the remarkable piece will be premiered by Birmingham Bach Choir, conducted by Paul Spicer.

Bach wrote five settings of the Passion, with three – including St Mark, which records state was performed in the 1730s-1740s – presumed completely lost.

But 20 years ago, the late British scholar Andor Gomme reconstructed the work using surviving music, existing cantatas, and segments from composer Reinhard Keiser, an older contemporary of Bach.

The work is technically therefore a hybrid: Bach for the arias, chorales and two major choruses, and Keiser for the narrative.

Despite its heritage, St Mark Passion is nonetheless an accomplished, surprising and coherent work, which the choir are very much looking forward to premiering.

“As a Bach Choir it is a very precious thing to be able to sing a major work principally by Bach which is not in the regular canon of his works, [which are] performed all the time,” says Paul Spicer.

“We regularly sing St John and St Matthew Passions but this reconstruction of the St Mark Passion provides us with a wonderful opportunity to have a completely different take on the Passion as possibly conceived by Bach – and it is wholly different in approach from the other two we know so well.

“It is fascinating to understand how Gomme went about constructing this Passion from evidence, probability and possibility, so that we end up with a work which is incredibly powerful; which uses music by this greatest of all composers; and which is both familiar and yet totally unfamiliar in this context.

“Audiences will be fascinated and the choir is hugely motivated,” adds Paul. “Performing it in the stunning surroundings of Lichfield Cathedral makes the occasion even more special.”

For this unique performance of St Mark Passion, Birmingham Bach Choir will be joined by chamber orchestra The Musical and Amicable Society, and acclaimed soloists Elizabeth Cragg (soprano), Simon Ponsford (countertenor), Thomas Hobbs (Evangelist), Ruairi Bowen (tenor), and Henry Neill (baritone).

Tickets for the concert are £12-£25 (with conc), available from Lichfield Cathedral Bookshop (01543 306150), THSH Box Office (0121 345 0600), or via

Elizabeth Cragg (soprano)

Elizabeth Cragg (soprano)


Saturday 11 March 2017
Birmingham Bach Choir: J S Bach – St Mark Passion
Lichfield Cathedral, The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD
Tickets: Front Nave £25 (£22 conc)
Rear Nave & Front Aisles £18 (£15 conc)
Rear Aisles £12 (£9 conc)

Birmingham Bach Choir
The Musical & Amicable Society – baroque chamber orchestra
Paul Spicer – conductor
Elizabeth Cragg – soprano
Simon Ponsford – countertenor
Thomas Hobbs – Evangelist
Ruairi Bowen – tenor
Henry Neill – baritone

* Tickets also available from:
The Lichfield Cathedral Bookshop – Tel: 01543 306150
S&J Music, 23 Bird St, Lichfield – Tel: 01543 268909
Lichfield Garrick Box Office – Tel: 01543 412121
THSH Box Office – Tel: 0121 345 0600


As one of the UK’s leading large chamber choirs Birmingham Bach Choir has been contributing to the musical life of the West Midlands since 1919, making it one of the longest established musical groups in the area. Although the main focus is the Baroque period (especially JS Bach), the choir performs music spanning over 300 years including 20th and 21st century works.

A huge degree of dynamic subtlety… exhilarating… a wonderful evening.”  5-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Magnificat at Birmingham Cathedral, March 2015).

“The real deal…” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing A Shakespearean Concert, June 2016)

“Sounding awesomely impressive.” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Great Russian Sacred Music, November 2016)

Forthcoming concerts include a programme of work featuring French composers, including Fauré’s well-loved Requiem (17 June 2017, Pershore Abbey, Worcs; 24 June 2017, St Philip’s Birmingham Cathedral). The choir will also be performing Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday (14 April 2017) at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton.

For more information see:



Media images for download:

Thomas Hobbs   |   Paul Spicer

Other images available upon request.

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