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A painting of woman holding a baby.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

16 December 2023

In the Concert Hall

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs

Classical Music

The Christmas Oratorio is easily one of the most inspired musical enactments of the Nativity. Brett Weymark has chosen the first three parts, from the exultant opening to the tender scenes in the stable and the festive arrival of the shepherds.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

When JS Bach was at the height of his powers he created a monumental musical work for the Christmas season. Although he called it an oratorio, it was in six parts – one cantata for each of the first six days of Christmas. His listeners would have heard these in church services, with prayers, a sermon and congregational singing. But he genius of the Christmas Oratorio is that the music works brilliantly on a larger scale – tracing the Christmas narrative in satisfying style.

The concert opens with the thundering drums, trumpets and the thrilling sound of exultant voices lifted in praise: “Shout for joy!” The sweet pastoral sounds of flutes and oboes colour part two and its tender scenes in the lowly stable. Festive colours return as the shepherds arrive to celebrate the Lord of Heaven. In Bach’s hands the mystery of the Nativity finds perfect expression in glorious music.  

Brett Weymark has assembled the finely tuned voices of Chamber Singers and some of Sydney’s most stylish vocal soloists to find the impeccable balance between baroque expression and epic musical effect.


Johann Sebastian BACH 
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248

Part 1
For the 1st day of the Nativity
(“Jauchzet, frohlocket!”)

Part 2
For the 2nd day of the Nativity
(“Und es waren Hirten”)

Part 3
For the 3rd day of the Nativity
(“Herrscher des Himmels”)


Brett Weymark 

Penelope Mills 

Margaret Plummer 

Andrew Goodwin 

Christopher Richardson 

Chamber Singers

Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra

Other information

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