Good Friday | RTE presents Haydn Seven Last Words of Christ
Haydn The Seven Last Words of Christ
RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet
Philip O'Sullivan, reader
On Good Friday 2013 (29 March) RTÉ presents performances of two master works associated with the solemnity and drama of Holy Week: Bach's sacred oratorio, the St John Passion and Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ. Tickets for the St John Passion start at €10. The Seven Last Words of Christ is free to those attending the St John Passion and €5 for those attending The Seven Last Words of Christ alone. Both events will take place in the National Concert Hall.
The RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet has attracted considerable public interest in venues around Ireland for its performances of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ. On Good Friday 2013, it will perform the string quartet version of the orchestral original composed by Haydn in response to a commission for an orchestral work that would serve as an aid to meditation during the Good Friday religious services. The performance will be interspersed with Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Mark Strand's poem Poem After The Seven Last Words read by actor Philip O'Sullivan.
A dark and deeply moving work, The Seven Last Words of Christ consists of seven movements framed by an introduction and a dramatic final 'Earthquake' movement depicting the earthquake that rocked Calvary after the crucifixion. The poetry accompanying the performance was commissioned by the American Brentano Quartet. Writing about the commission, Brentano Quartet violinist Mark Steinberg says: 'The poetry of Mark Strand shares with the Haydn a surface of relative simplicity betraying underneath a piercing understanding of the human spirit. His is poetry which is quite musical in its cadence, lending itself well to being read aloud. There is a complete lack of pretense in his poetry, which has the sincerity so immediately apparent in the Haydn.'
The performances of the St John Passion and The Seven Last Words of Christ on Good Friday 2013 mark a new departure for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet. Welcoming this new development, Séamus Crimmins, Executive Director, RTÉ Orchestras, Quartet and Choirs says: 'In recent seasons, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir have ventured into new musical territories with performances of Bach's B minor Mass and his Christmas Oratorio. I hope that 2013 will see the start of a new tradition of Good Friday performances by the RTÉ Orchestras, Quartet and Choirs at the National Concert Hall. I am confident that the Haydn and Bach works will find strong public support and offer many the opportunity to reflect on the events of Holy Week in a special way through music of extraordinary depth, drama and serenity.'