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Vespers with BBC Singers and Abel Selaocoe

Abel Selaocoe holding his cello

Welcome to this evening’s performance by the BBC Singers, with Chief Conductor Sofi Jeannin and Artist in Association Abel Selaocoe. 

At the heart of the concert is Rachmaninov’s a cappella All-Night Vigil – in itself a choral gem, written when Orthodox sacred music was experiencing a significant renaissance, and premiered in 1915 against the bleak backdrop of the First World War. The performance is tailored to work alongside the versatile and brilliant sound-world created with voice, cello and percussion by Abel Selaocoe: alongside Rachmaninov’s rich and demanding choral writing are pieces from Africa – some folk songs, some improvisations – which offer a different perspective on the nocturnal liturgical journey of the Vespers, whilst working hand-in-hand to create a fresh interpretation on one of the greatest pieces in the 20th-century choral canon.


Co-produced by the Barbican and BBC Singers

This concert will be livestreamed via the Barbican website and broadcast on Radio 3 in Concert on Tuesday. It will be available for 30 days after broadcast via BBC Sounds, where you can also find podcasts and music mixes.

Please ensure all mobile phones and watch-alarms are switched off.

Programme and performers

Sergei Rachmaninov All-Night Vigil (Vespers)
Interspersed with:
Trad/Abel Selaocoe Music of African twilight

Abel Selaocoe cello
Sofi Jeannin conductor
BBC Singers


Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932–2017)

Transliteration and translation © Andrew Huth

Artist biographies