fbpx Sydney Philharmonia Choirs | St John Passion Re-Imagined

Photography by Keith Saunders


Continuing our much-loved tradition of Easter concerts, the Symphony Chorus and Chamber Singers are joining forces in 2021 to perform Bach’s St John Passion at The Concourse, Chatswood.

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.

And 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. 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.

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

Saturday 3rd April, 1pm & 7pm
The Concourse, Chatswood


Deborah CHEETHAM & Matthew DOYLE Tarimi nulay – long time living here
Johann Sebastian BACH St John Passion
Joe TWIST Heaven, Tear Apart (Himmel Reisse)*†
Brooke SHELLEY Ein Bachlein im Bach*†

* Premiere
† Commissioned as part of our 100 Minutes of New Australian Music centenary project in 2020. We’re delighted to be performing them in our 2021 season.

Elizabeth Scott conductor
Richard Butler Evangelist
Andrew O’Connor Christus
Celeste Lazarenko soprano
Sian Sharp mezzo
Nicholas Jones tenor
David Greco bass
Chamber Singers
Sydney Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Tickets on sale shortly, call 02 8274 6200 to join our waitlist for St John Passion