St John Passion and The Seven Last Words of Christ

Good Friday 2013
RTÉ presents performances of
St John Passion and The Seven Last Words of Christ

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.

St John Passion
Sometimes called 'sermons in sound' Bach's cantatas and passion settings are works of extraordinary scale, range and intensity. His vivid setting of the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of St. John, with additional passages from St Matthew, was written for performance at the Good Friday service in St Nicholas Church, Leipzig in April 1724 and was the centrepiece of Bach's year-long cycle of liturgical cantatas. Expansive opening and closing choruses, moving chorales and solo arias make this an immensely powerful, dramatic and emotional work. It will be performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and singers Mark Wilde (Evangelist), Nicholas Merryweather (Christus), Gavan Ring (Pilate), Sarah Power (soprano), Sharon Carty (mezzo-soprano) and Eamonn Mulhall (tenor) conducted by Michael Rosewell.

The Seven Last Words of Christ
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.'

What more you might like to know...
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.'

Full listings:
St John Passion
The Seven Last Words of Christ

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