Associate organist Jonathan Gregory has spent months organising what he hopes will be a unique event at Barnet parish church -- a concert to celebrate the strength of Anglo-Japanese cultural relationships.


Filling nave of St John the Baptist will be a seventy-strong choir made up of singers from the UK-Japan Choir and members of choirs at Barnet parish church, St Mary’s Monken Hadley, and St Mark’s Barnet Vale.

They will be joined by seven international soloists – including Japanese soprano Miku Yasukawa -- for a performance of St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach, the earliest of the surviving Passions by Bach and a firm favourite with Japanese singers and choirs.

The concert on Sunday 24 March at 5.30pm is being supported by the Embassy of Japan and sponsors include leading Japanese companies with UK subsidiaries. Invited guests include Japanese embassy representatives.

Mr Gregory established the UK-Japan Choir over 30 years ago with his wife Yoshimi. His contribution towards strengthening Anglo-Japanese cultural life has been recognised with the award of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan.

There have been regular rehearsals for the concert which have brought together the singers from the three Barnet churches as well as members of the UK-Japan Choir – a chance to enjoy their shared passion for Bach’s music.

Mr Gregory will conduct the concert which will have the support of a small orchestra and the seven international soloists – Oscar Golden-Lee, Evangelist; Miku Yasukawa, soprano; Thomas Kelly, tenor; Charlie Morris, Pilate; Chritopher Mitchell, alto; James Geidt, bass; Augustus Perkins-Ray, Jesus.

Mr Gregory, who lives in High Barnet, was appointed associate organist at Barnet parish church a year ago, following his retirement after 16 years as the organist and director of music at Leicester Cathedral.

He founded the UK-Japan Choir after the success of a choir that he and his wife established for a UK-Japan festival in 1991. This became part of the UK-Japan Music Society of which he became the founder music director and organist.

The choir gives several performances a year – recent venues include St John’s Wood Church and St George’s Chapel, Windsor – and this year’s concert in Barnet, with the support of local choirs, will be the largest this year.

“The Japanese love European culture and when they are working in the UK – perhaps at the embassy or with Japanese companies – they enjoy celebrating our culture as well as their own,” said Mr Gegory.

“Part of the experience when being here in the UK is to experience our choral singing. Bach’s music is widely admired in Japan so an event like this, with an orchestra and soloists, is a very special event.

“A concert like this reflects the outreach of the Japanese community here in the UK and what better place could there be than Barnet parish church which has a fine organ and is such an amazing venue for a concert.”

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