Wellington Choral Society is going back to Bach in returning to Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion for its next concert in St John’s Church, Wellington on 30 March 2019. It will be almost exactly 67 years since the society last performed this gem of sacred music on 29 March 1952.
Ironically, in 1951/52, the Choral Society was seeking additional members for the Passion and, today, new members for this concert and for the society in general are sought once again.
Malcolm Hair, the society’s Publicity Officer, said, “Members of the local community who have any inclination towards choral music, or who just fancy having a go, are warmly invited to drop in for a couple of taster sessions at the Choir’s rehearsal venue: Wellington Methodist Church, Waterloo Road, Wellington TA21 8JQ. Rehearsals are every Wednesday evening starting at 7pm for 7.30pm on 9 January. There are no auditions and the ability to read music is not necessary.”
The St Matthew Passion was written by Bach in 1727 and was probably first performed on Good Friday in the same year in St Thomas Church (Thomaskirche) in Leipzig, Saxony. Bach worked there as the musical director (Kapellmeister) from 1723 until his death in 1750. The work is for a choir, solo voices and orchestra. Both the choir and the orchestra are divided into two sections becoming a double choir and a double orchestra. There are, however, several chorales which are sung by the whole choir. These are akin to hymn tunes and it is likely that in Bach’s time the congregation would have joined in singing them as they were often sung at church services.
By the time of Bach’s death, musical fashions were changing and his music was beginning to be thought of as antiquated. The St Matthew Passion, in common with other works by Bach, was rarely performed in the years following Bach’s death although in 1829 Mendelssohn rediscovered the Passion and decided to perform a short version of it in Berlin. It immediately became popular and his works began to be performed once more. He is now revered as one of the greatest of all composers.
The St Matthew Passion is to be performed on Saturday 30 March 2019 at St John’s Church Wellington at 7.00pm.Tickets at £14 (under 18s free) will be available from Odette’s Tearoom, 27 High Street, Wellington (01823 667919), online at www.wellingtonchoralsociety.org.uk, choir members or on the door.