JS Bach – St John Passion

feat. world class soloists including Christian Gerhaher and Ann Hallenberg with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding

Live from the Swedish Radio Concert Hall

Good Friday, 2nd April, 7pm CET

The St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) will be performed on Good Friday, April 2 at 7pm CET in Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio concert hall. 

A star cast of Swedish and international singers will participate, including Christian Gerhaher, Ann Hallenberg, Julia Kleiter, Matthew Rose and Andrew Staples with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Choir, under Music Director Daniel Harding.

The performance will be available through Swedish Radio P2, berwaldhallen.se/play and will be livestreamed on the international music site medici.tv

There will also be a pre-concert talk in English with Daniel Harding and Andrew Staples.image.png

Johann Sebastian Bach, Ann Hallenberg, Daniel Harding and Christian Gerhaher participate in the St John Passion in Berwaldhallen. Photo: Arne Hyckenberg, Alexander Basta

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is traditionally the week to perform one of Bach’s settings of the Passion, but this year, due to the global pandemic and lockdown, it somehow feels even more important than ever to present Bach’s St John Passion in Berwaldhallen” says Staffan Becker, General Manager, Swedish Radio Concert Hall, Berwaldhallen.

Daniel Harding, Artistic Director for the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Staples, tenor soloist and Visual Director for the St John Passion describe this special event as such:-

In normal times, there would be countless Good Friday performances of Bach’s St John Passion taking place in concert halls and churches across the world. These are of course not normal times and the challenge to present this iconic and radical work for screen right now is one that we are delighted to be undertaking.

From the opening bars, Bach beckons the listener into the vivid drama and persuades them to participate in the charged storytelling and to share the world of its characters. We feel what they feel and suffer with them as the inevitable ritual plays out. The work is both at the same time, dramatic and reflective, provocative yet soothing. There is no set, no movement but rather the drama unfolds through the playing and the singing.

The camera allows for a degree of connection and intimacy with the performers and the music that we hope will go a long way to bridging the physical distance between us and our audience. Our intention is to try to do as Bach does and to bring the audience close to the drama, the characters and the music so that we may all participate in this exquisite piece and feel moved by and involved in it.”

When Bach composed the St John Passion, he had recently been appointed cantor in Leipzig. The work was first performed in 1724, three years before the St Matthew Passion. It was then performed a number of times before being put to one side when Bach died in 1750. It was not until the 19th century that it was brought back to life. In Sweden, the St John Passion was first performed in 1898, conducted by Wilhelm Stenhammar.

Bach’s sublime rendering of the passion of Christ according to The Gospel of John
Live broadcast through Sveriges Radio P2 and livestreamed on berwaldhallen.se/play and medici.tv

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Swedish Radio Choir
Daniel Harding conductor
Julia Kleiter soprano
Ann Hallenberg alto
Andrew Staples tenor/Evangelist/Visual Director
Christian Gerhaher baritone
Matthew Rose baritone/Jesus