Bach’s St John Passion
- Date: Sat, Mar 25, 2017 - Wed, Mar 29, 2017
- Time: 19:00 - 21:00
- Venue: Wallingford
- Location: Dorchester Abbey
- Purchase Tickets
J S Bach – St John Passion
Evangelist – Ben Alden
Mezzo Soprano – Carris Jones
Christ and Bass arias – Timothy Murphy
Conductor – Chris Walker
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was appointed Cantor at St Thomas’ Church, Leipzig, in 1723 where he was to remain for the rest of his life. He completed the St John Passion for Good Friday 1724, subsequently revising it several times.
The St John Passion is flanked by two great reflective choruses, Lord and Master and Lie still, while the gospel story is sung almost entirely by the Evangelist in a series of graphic recitatives. Other soloists participate as the characters in the story, or with arias commenting on the narrative. The chorus assumes several roles. In the chorales they reflect on the unfolding story, using familiar hymn tunes in which the congregation would have joined. Bach’s harmonies often surprise, highlighting the meaning of the words poignantly. Elsewhere the chorus join in the action as the crowd or as Roman soldiers. The gospel text and Bach’s inspired music make a riveting combination for St John’s account of the Passion, arguably unsurpassed before or since.
‘There is a musical argument for performing the Passions in the original language, but to me it seems self-evident that the complete involvement of singers and audience in the experience of performance is best achieved by performing in our native language, turning a concert into what is almost an act of worship.’