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BACH’S ST. JOHN PASSION AT YORK MINSTER
Sat Apr 6 @ 7.30 pm - 9.45 pm£5 – £20
Music lovers will have the opportunity to hear the St. John Passion in the splendour of York Minster on Saturday 6 April at 7.30 p.m., when it is performed by York Musical Society’s 150-strong chorus, orchestra and six soloists. Of these soloists – a soprano, mezzosoprano, two tenors, baritone and bass – four have sung with YMS before. It will be conducted by David Pipe.
Telling the story of Jesus’ birth and death as part of the church year at Christmas and at Easter is almost as old as the Christian church itself. Composers have set the stories to music for centuries, but no one has ever quite matched the range and power of J. S. Bach in doing so. His St. John Passion, the earlier and shorter of his surviving Easter oratorios, is the most dramatic and emotional of all.
The St. John Passion divides into two main parts. The first section takes the story through to Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. From the outset, Bach prepares the listener for the musical and narrative turbulence which follows. The second part is a dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, with ferocious crowd choruses, culminating in Jesus’ death and the exquisite aria ‘It is accomplished’.
Protestant reform in the Roman Catholic Church meant that the liturgy and the music that accompanied it were in the local language so that all could relate to and understand what was being said. Bach’s texts for the St. John Passion were from Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible and, in that spirit, YMS will be singing in English. The St. John Passion was first performed nearly 300 years ago – in 1724 – as part of the Good Friday service in Leipzig. It has certainly not lost its any of its captivating power since then.
Tickets are available in advance from the York Theatre Royal box office (01904 623568, yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or in person; add £1.50 booking fee) or on the door on the night. Tickets are priced at £5, £10, £15 and £20.