Photography by Keith Saunders



Continuing our much-loved tradition of Easter concerts, the Symphony Chorus and Chamber Singers are joining forces in 2020 to perform Bach’s St John Passion at the Sydney Town Hall.

In the space of two hours, Bach draws on the theatrical conventions of opera to reveal the immediacy and humanity of John’s “eyewitness” Gospel account. And at the heart of the drama is the chorus – bringing a fierce, almost visceral realism to the crowd scenes and irresistibly drawing us into a spirit of contemplation in the chorales.

It’s a sign of great music that it survives change – new contexts, new trends, new audiences. No longer do you need to sit for hours in a Lutheran pew on Good Friday in order to hear one of Bach’s mighty “sermons in sound”. The dramatic power of his St John Passion – a vivid enactment of the Easter story – has transcended its church origins to speak a universal, musical message that combines storytelling and meditation.

So for this “re-imagined” performance of Bach’s St John Passion we’ve commissioned two brief “reflections” that will comment on questions posed by this great work. And you’ll hear them in the context of Bach’s sound world, with an orchestra of period instruments. In many ways, this will be the St John Passion as you’ve always heard it – turbulent and majestic, anguished and comforting, furious and serene – but with a 21st century perspective to inspire new contemplation.

This program will open with an Acknowledgement of Country sung in Gadigal language. The remainder of the program will be sung in German.

The program will run for approximately 2.5 hours including a 20 minute interval.

The performance will be recorded by Fine Music Sydney.

Saturday 11 April, 3pm
Sydney Town Hall

Johann Sebastian BACH St John Passion
Joe TWIST World premiere
Brooke SHELLEY World premiere

Brett Weymark conductor
Richard Butler Evangelist
Andrew O’Connor Christus
Celeste Lazarenko soprano
Anna Dowsley mezzo
Timothy Reynolds tenor
David Greco bass
Symphony Chorus
Chamber Singers
Sydney Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Tickets for this performance are currently not available.