Helsinki Cathedral. Photo: Harri Hemmilä.
Fri 15.12.2017 07.00 pm Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki
Mon 18.12.2017 07.00 pm Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki

The Christmas Oratorio

Cantatas 1–3 + 6

J. S. Bach

Hedvig Paulig, soprano
Maria Kettunen, alto
Mati Turi, tenor
Juha Kotilainen, bass
Cantores Minores
Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Hannu Norjanen, conductor


Cantores Minores performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio for the first time in 1967 when celebrating its 15th jubilee, led by Professor Heinz Hofmann (conductor 1962–1987). The city of Helsinki provided the orchestra, free of charge, and soloists were Thea Parviainen, Heljä Angervo-Karttunen, Matti Piipponen and Matti Tuloisela. In 1981, the choir began performing the Christmas Oratorio regularly. Hannu-Ilari Lampila, amongst others, wrote in his review that “the Christmas Oratorio suits the Little Cantors much better than an opera choir”. The concert in 1981 premiered the debutant Monica Groop.

In 1983, Hofmann decided that the choir would perform all the cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio in honour of Bach’s 300th anniversary year. The plan, however, was never realised. It was only in 1988, during Professor Christian Hauschild’s lead (1987–2004), that Cantores Minores performed the whole oratorio (cantatas 1–6), in two successive concerts. For the Christmas season in 2009–2010, the choir’s current Artistic Director Hannu Norjanen began a new tradition of performing the first three cantatas before Christmas, and the last three cantatas after Christmas, on Epiphany. This concert tradition has continued almost without interruption. 

The Christmas Oratorio concert in 1991 was sold out, and the success story is repeated every year – Helsinki Cathedral is always absolutely filled with people. The collaboration with Lohja City Orchestra, which was initiated in 1995, has made possible to perform the oratorio also elsewhere in areas around Helsinki. The choir has cooperated with the Finnish Baroque Orchestra since 2005, and the orchestra will now perform the third first cantatas for the third time. 

Duration: 2 h (no intermission)