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Chattanooga Bach Choir Presents Bach’s St. John Passion on May 18th

Baroque music performance setting.

Chattanooga Bach Choir Presents Bach’s St. John Passion on May 18th

Chattanooga, Tennessee

This Saturday evening, May 18th, the Chattanooga Bach Choir will deliver a not-to-be-missed rendition of Bach’s pivotal composition, St. John Passion. The performance will take place at the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul, located at 214 E. 8th St. in Chattanooga. Tickets are being offered at a price range between $25-$35.

About St. John Passion: Historical Context

St. John Passion was first heard in 1724 at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, a composition that stands as a significant milestone in Baroque music. Although Bach reworked it many times, the finalized version from 1749 was not heard during his lifetime. It narrates the Passion story as told from the Gospel of John, which varies from the synoptic gospels, providing rich depth in dramatic and emotional contexts.

The Structure of St. John Passion

The composition is divided into five sections: arrest, Peter’s denial, the trial before Pilate, the crucifixion and death, and the burial. Each part unfolds and builds upon the previous one, creating a gripping narrative of shifting intensity. The entire piece is split into two parts with a multitude of movements, cohesively telling the narrative.

Musical Evolution of the Passion Genre

Post-Reformation, the genre of Passion expanded its boundaries. It began to encompass chorales combined with devotional texts and Gospel passages sung in German, a development in which Bach, during his time as Cantor at Thomasschule in Leipzig, significantly contributed. The St. John Passion, with its complex compositional history, vivid textural contrasts, and the inclusion of chorale verses and Passion poetry, stands out from his contributions.

Thematic Essence of St. John Passion

One of the central themes of the masterpiece is the depiction of Christ not merely as a figure of suffering, but as an eternal, omnipresent ruler. This thread runs deeply throughout the composition, especially noticeable in the pivotal chorale “Durch Dein Gefängnis” and the culminating aria “Es ist Vollbracht”. It solidifies Bach’s St. John Passion not only as a musical rendition of a biblical narrative but as an intricate tapestry woven with threads of theology, history, and profound musicality.

In Conclusion

Bach’s “St. John Passion” presents a multifaceted portrait of one of the most defining events in Christian history. For interested residents and visitors in Chattanooga, the upcoming performance by the Chattanooga Bach Choir offers a rare opportunity to experience this iconic piece of music firsthand. The concert on Saturday, May 18th is expected to shed new light on Bach’s seminal work, drawing attendees into a rich tapestry of musical storytelling and exploration.

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