A bright fanfare of trumpets and drums opens Bach’s Easter Oratorio. “It’s so joyful,” Madeleine Easton tells me over coffee in Sydney, where she has returned from the UK to establish a new historically informed performance ensemble, the Bach Akedemie Australia. “It gets everyone dancing in the aisles.”
The band’s inaugural offering, at the end of April, will be a programme that includes Bach’s Cantata BWV4 – Christ lag in Todes Banden– and his Concerto for Oboe and Violin, BWV1060. But for Easton, who has led the English Baroque Soloists for many years under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner – patron of her new Bach Akedemie – the Easter Oratoriois an ambition that she hopes to achieve in 2018.
“It’s hardly ever played,” she says. “It’s lesser known even than the Christmas Oratorio– and people don’t usually perform the complete Christmas Oratorioeither because it’s six separate cantatas and it goes for hours. This is only 40 minutes long and it’s just a boutique jewel of an oratorio. It’s halfway between the massive oratorios and a cantata in terms of scale.”