Bach St John Passion - Hereford Three Choirs Festival
Mention J S Bach and most people will immediately think of St Thomas’s, Leipzig. However, Bach’s appointment in Leipzig also included responsibility for the music at other churches in the city, not least St Nicholas, (arguably a more beautiful building than St Thomas), where the St John Passion was given its first performance in 1724, less than a year after Bach had arrived in Leipzig.
Over the following 25 years Bach revised the work (unlike his later St Matthew Passion). It was not intended as a concert piece but an act of worship. The chorales would have been well known to the congregation, who were expected to join in. (Such a practice is not espoused however in modern concert performances!)
To those unfamiliar with this music, its subject matter may deter them. However people should not be put off by such pre-conceptions. When reviewing a disc of the St John Passion in early 2001, Charlotte Gardner expressed the view that ‘Perhaps the biggest joy of the St John Passion is that, for all the ferocity and sorrow of the Good Friday story, it’s a truly optimistic work, anticipating the resurrection with music suffused with light and hope.’ Why not come and judge for yourself? But book early – this concert is expected to be a sell out!
- St John Passion
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)