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Holy Week Festival Q+A: Christopher Monks, Armonico Consort

Posted on 6 March 2020

What inspired the programme you’re bringing to the Holy Week Festival? Tell us a bit about the music and what we should listen out for.

The Mass in B Minor is Bach’s final great work, a testament of his life’s work. For me it is deeply philosophical, and one can sense completely what Bach the man would have been like. Exquisite solos intertwined with choruses of such sensitivity and those of profound majesty, it is simply baroque music at its finest.

We hope that the Holy Week Festival will encourage all sorts of people to come and try something new. How did you first get into choral music?

I was in a church choir in Solihull – Nigel Short was the head chorister. He was a lot older than me.

If you met someone with no knowledge of classical music at all, which piece from your programme would you recommend they listen to first, and why?

The Dona Nobis Pacem, the final movement, it encompasses a simplicity and emotion in the context grandure which sums up all that is baroque music.

Tell us about a highlight of your musical career so far.

It will come on Easter Day at St John’s Smith Square.  Previously, touring the 40 part Striggio Mass with Tallis’s Spem in Alium which we combined with an education project which taught ‘part 41’ by Toby Young to 1000 young people to perform in workshops sung in the round with the professional singers. One particular pain of a child was gradually won over by the experience, saying at the end ‘wow, that was cool’. It was.

This year’s festival has a mental health and wellbeing focus, does music have a role in this for you? And do you try and bring this to your performances in any way?

By its nature, music addresses this in all it is and does. Our Workplace choir scheme (The Voice Squad) takes this incredibly seriously, and it is so good to see an increasing number of businesses utilising music to benefit the mental health of their staff.

Quick fire round:

John or Matthew Passion? Matthew

Allegri or MacMillan Miserere? Allegri

Christmas or Easter? Christmas

Pancakes or Easter eggs? Both


Thanks to Christopher Monks, Artistic Director for this blog. Armonico Consort perform at the Holy Week Festival on Sunday 12th April, 3pm at St John’s Smith Square.

Armonico ConsortBach B Minor MassHoly WeekHoly Week FestivallentMassSt John's Smith Square