Of The Kingdom, premiered again in Birmingham in 1906, Elgar wrote that his aim was to ‘embody the Calling of the Apostles, Their Teaching (Schooling) and their Mission’. It shares leitmotifs with The Apostles and hearing them on consecutive evenings will intensify these connections.

Sir Mark cites the Virgin Mary’s aria, ‘The sun goeth down’, as its gem, indeed a ‘standout moment in all Elgar where the exultance of the music is very real’. It will be sung by Gemma Summerfield; and as Mary Magdalene, Dame Sarah Connolly makes a most welcome return to the Hallé. Thomas Atkins and Ashley Riches sing St John and St Peter respectively. What Sir Mark describes as Elgar’s ‘Malvern trilogy’ ends with a fervent setting of The Lord’s Prayer, with the composer drawing together the now familiar themes that have woven their way through these iconic oratorios.

Gemma Summerfield – The Blessed Virgin Mary
Dame Sarah Connolly – Mary Magdalene
Andrew Staples – St John
Ashley Riches – St Peter