About the Bach’s St. Matthew Passion course
In Lutheran Leipzig of Bach’s day, Good Friday dominated the liturgical calendar; as the Lenten fast extended to Church music, the impact of the music heard in St Thomas’s Church on Good Friday was profound. When Bach and his musicians first performed the St Matthew Passion in 1727, those present heard a musical and devotional offering of an altogether greater stature and complexity than ever before.
Nearly three centuries later, the Matthew Passion remains one of the pinnacles of sacred music. For some, performing or listening to the Matthew Passion is an annual priority.
This short course is for performers and listeners alike – and those who have never heard the Matthew Passion – to enter more deeply into a narrative we thought we knew and music with which we may be familiar, and allow Bach’s profound insights to help engage with it in new, often counter-intuitive, ways.
This study day aims to corroborate Professor John Butt’s view that the results of listening to this music ‘for many listeners at least, seem to be utterly unexpected and transformative.’
About the course leader
The Revd Canon Charles Stewart is an Anglican priest and formerly a professional musician, who has sung, studied and conducted much of the choral music of J. S. Bach, including the St John Passion, St Matthew Passion and Mass in B minor. Charles is currently vicar of Christchurch in the diocese of Winchester and continues to research how the Passion of Christ may be communicated to contemporary listeners through the music of J. S. Bach and, by contrast, James MacMillan.