The Passion, Ancient and Modern

By Brian McCreath

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The Handel and Haydn Society and Boston Modern Orchestra Project explore the story of the Passion through both the greatest of composers and the music of our time.


The Passion, or the story of the capture and execution of Jesus, is the heart of belief for Christians. For non-Christians, the Passion can be a powerful story of great emotional weight, especially when told through great works of art and music.

Handel and Haydn Society Artistic Director Harry Chrisophers (photo by Stu Rosner)

New England audiences have an opportunity to hear three of those musical interpretations in concerts given by Boston's Handel and Haydn Society and by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. H&H gave the first complete performance of J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1879, and as part of the crescendo towards the ensemble's 200th anniversary, Artistic Director Harry Christophers leads H&H in this pinnacle of Bach's sacred works on March 30 and April 1. Classical New England broadcasts the April 1 performance live from Symphony Hall.
 

BMOP Founder and Artistic Director Gil Rose (photo by Liz Linder)

On April 6, Boston Modern Orchestra Project performs a concert entitled "Dual Passions" with Artistic Director Gil Rose, conductor Andrew Clark, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum. The concert begins with the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning composition, the little match girl passion, by David Lang, with the second half devoted to Arvo Pärt's Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem, a setting of the Passion according to St. John written in 1982.

I talked with both Harry Christophers and Gil Rose about the Passion and the particular ways these three composers bring this transformative story to musical life:
 


Here is an extended interview about David Lang's the little match girl passion and Arvo Pärt's Passio Domini with conductor Gil Rose:
 


For more with Harry Christophers and Bach's St. Matthew Passion, hear a two-part series of The Bach Hour:

The St. Matthew Passion on The Bach Hour, Part One

The St. Matthew Passion on The Bach Hour, Part Two

More about these concerts can be found by visiting the Handel and Haydn Society and Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

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