National Centre for Early Music

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St Matthew Passion

Wednesday 12 July 2017
Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York

Bach's St Matthew Passion was never designed to be a concert piece, and some of the most exciting performances in recent years have been ones in which the latent drama of the piece has been vividly realised. As part of the York Early Music Festival 2017 - the festival's 40th anniversary - the St Matthew Passion was brought to life anew, with a theatrical and participatory performance.

In Peter Seymour's new edition of Bach's early version, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists sought out the dramatic element in a semi-staged production directed by Thomas Guthrie and featuring two of today's most vital interpreters of the roles of Christ and the Evangelist. This performance also explored the original role of the 'great Passion' as a part of the Good Friday church service, with chorales involving the participation of the congregation - otherwise known as the audience!

The three chorales of the St Matthew Passion outline the work as a prelude, interlude and postlude. Audience members were provided with sheet music and recordings prior to the event and, at 6.30pm on the evening of the performance, were invited to a short rehearsal of the three chorales prior to singing them in the concert.