Pre-Concert Talk: The St John Passion as Protestant Drama. The Story behind the Music

How does Johann Sebastian Bach’s music for the St John Passion respond to the text? While the Passion was first performed 300 years ago, the text in parts dates back 200 years earlier, to the time of the Reformation: Luther’s translation of the New Testament was first published in 1522 and the first ever printed hymn-book in 1524. This pre-concert talk will focus on how these older textual elements and contemporary pietist writing are fused together in Bach’s dramatic staging of the Passion. We will explore the history behind the hymns through live musical examples and communal singing, including how they provide turning points in the story told by the Evangelist and the choir, and in the reflections offered by the soloists.