An anthem to new beginnings

Pure-voiced chants will echo among the arches of Winthrop Hall, leading the way to divine celebration. Prepare to be moved as the Hall resonates with the wonderful sounds of young performers in collaboration with West Australian Opera principal artists in this special event.

Bach’s Easter Oratorio evokes the resurrection of Jesus, shifting from solo melodies to the triumph of the orchestra as the singers’ voices intertwine with each other in this rich and whirling score.

Joining the Bach, responding to its text and the architecture of the space, is a new commission from Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth. The new with the old will be linked together in this world premiere season of WA's brightest talent.


West Australian Opera presents Oratorio in association with The University of Western Australia Conservatorium of Music.

Behind the Scenes


Director's Notes

By Margrete Helgeby Chaney

Bach’s Easter Oratorio, born as a birthday cantata for a Duke, re-worked six weeks later for the service on Easter Sunday has lived through many iterations since 1725. It’s exciting to be working with the immense talent and graciousness of Lachlan Skipworth to conjure yet another iteration; one that is framed by contemporary sensibilities and sensitivities and yet still honouring that universal search for redemption.

Winthrop Hall is the perfect venue for this semi-staging of the Oratorio and it is a real treat to work with the students here.

The similarities between the core themes of the story of the resurrection and those that broadly exist in humanity, regardless of creed, are where we have focussed our creative discussions: to redeem and be redeemed, to experience hope, doubt, longing, yearning, to experience the reverie of being in the presence of real beauty, to betray, to deny, to feel love that is pure and all-encompassing and, because it is just that, hurts deeply.

Chris van Tuinen created a great moment when he gave Lachlan the licence to consider the recitatives anew. Suddenly we were looking at a World Premiere of a work that had been performed for the last 298 years.

This semi-staged production, collaborating with Lachlan and lighting designer, Mark Haslam, was never going to be a narration, but an evocation. An evocation of the way the universal themes make us feel, not the events per se. The performers, musicians, lighting, staging and reconsidered recitatives have a task; and that, we hope, is to facilitate a state of repose that allows the audience to reflect, to feel. To that end we are not including any surtitles in these performances, the English text for both the Bach and the Skipworth are available via the button below. Where you see text highlighted in bold, these are the specific words that either Lachlan or I have focussed on within that particular number.

We hope you experience an hour in which the Bach carries you as it always has, and that the Skipworth carries you even further. Wherever you arrive, and however you arrive there, redemption, while the language of religious texts is a quality that also lies in the hands of each and every one of us.

Read Translations & Messages

Composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Lachlan Skipworth
Conductor Christopher van Tuinen
Director Margrete Helgeby Chaney
Lighting Designer Mark Haslam

Soprano Bella Marslen
Alto Jillian Halleron
Tenor Ry Charleston 
Jake Bigwood

UWA Symphonic Chorus
UWA Symphony Orchestra

Seating for this event is General Admission. This means you can sit anywhere within the hall. Accessible seating options will be available.

Parking is available at The University of Western Australia. The following car parks are located within close distance of Winthrop Hall:

  • Carpark 1, Mounts Bay Road (includes ACROD parking bays)
  • Carpark 3, Hackett Entrance 1, Hackett Drive (includes ACROD parking bays)
  • Carpark 17, Corner Fairway and Cooper Street

A bar will be open in the Winthrop Hall foyer. This is open from 6.30pm each performance evening.

Drinks can be taken into the performance space.

Event and ticketing details


Wheelchair Access

Dates & Times

DURATION 1 hour with no interval
20 April 2023 Thursday - 7.30pm (Opening Night)
21 April 2023 Friday - 7.30pm
22 April 2023 Saturday - 7.30pm (Closing Night)


Winthrop Hall

The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley

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