Monday, January 21, 2019

St Matthew Passion – An Epic Musical Creation

St Matthew Passion
Sunday 31 March 2019, 2:00 pm
Dunedin Town Hall

David Burchell, conductor
Soloists: Iain Tetley (Evangelist), Scott Bezett (Jesus), Lois Johnston (Soprano), Claire Barton (Alto), Andrew Grenon (Tenor), Malcolm Leitch (Bass)
City Choir Dunedin
Christchurch City Choir
Fairfield School Choir, Forte
Dunedin Symphony Orchestra

City Choir Dunedin is proud to present Bach’s epic work: St Matthew Passion. The resources for St Matthew Passion are huge, requiring a double choir, a large orchestra and seven soloists. Christchurch City Choir will join us to provide the second choir and they are excited to be involved in this most marvellous of works. The acclaimed soloists are Iain Tetley (Evangelist), Scott Bezett (Jesus), Lois Johnston (Soprano), Claire Barton (Alto), Andrew Grenon (Tenor) and Malcolm Leitch (Bass). The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra will provide orchestral support while David Burchell will conduct this highlight in Dunedin’s musical calendar. 

In the Middle Ages Christian churches began observing Holy Week by retelling the story of Christ’s crucifixion in music. Bible verses were set to chant melodies, with St Matthew Passion culminating in one of the most ambitious musical compositions of all time. 

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) composed his St Matthew Passion for the 1727 Good Friday service at St Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany. The work is the largest single composition Bach ever wrote, both in terms of length and in terms of forces called for in the score. 

The story of the Passion begins in the turmoil of Jesus’s last days in Jerusalem and ends with his crucifixion and burial. The drama is brought to life by Bach’s musical expression of the Christian tenets of love, grace, and salvation. This epic work, perhaps Bach’s most personal, often moves from a moment of violent operatic drama to a solo aria, frozen in time, an utterance from deep inside the soul. 

The St Matthew Passion is one the greatest creations, revealing layers of meaning in the text. The great variety of music in the Passion is dramatic, passionate and emotional, and surprises abound. With more than 250 musicians on stage, this performance will be epic and one not to be missed.

Subscribe to the 2019 concert season as a Friend of the Choir to save up to 10% on single ticket prices!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Life and Times of a Choral Society

It all began with Hallelujah... 

Dunedin first heard Messiah on Christmas Eve 1863, and it has been performed frequently ever since. The Choir’s new definitive history tells the story of the first 150 years, setting its activities in the context of the social and artistic fabric of the developing city and country.

The Life and Times of a Choral Society
will be published early in 2019, price $45.

To reserve copies or register interest email or use the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Dunedin’s City Choir and its predecessors have been performing since Christmas Eve 1863, when selections from Messiah were presented to Dunedin by the newly-formed Philharmonic Society. Like every other New Zealand choral society its career has been a chequered one, and the Philharmonic itself only lasted four years before being almost instantly reformed, again reforming with greater success as the Dunedin Choral Society in 1871. Since 1914 the Society has been in continuous existence, providing stimulating recreation for its members, and a wide range of musical experiences for its audience.

This definitive history, based on extensive archival research, removes the accretions of myth from the story of the Choir’s first 150 years, setting its activities in the context of the social and artistic fabric of the developing city and country. A very different narrative has emerged, and while the tale is not always a glorious one, it is a tribute not only to the vision and determination of the original founders, but to all those whose efforts have ensured that it has continued not only to survive - often against great odds - but also to flourish.