by Mia Leo, GraceMusic
Brandon Beachamp conducts the Grace Church Choir, orchestra, and soloists in a contemporary, yet classical, setting of Bob Chilcott’s St. John Passion on Sunday March 26 at 4p.
Originally written for the Choir of Wells Cathedral (UK), Chilcott’s Passion is modeled after the great settings by J. S. Bach. The hour-long performance features David Vanderwal (St. Thomas Church, Fifth Ave., NYC) as the Evangelist and Peter Walker (St. Luke in the Fields, NYC) as Jesus. As in Bach’s Passions, the role of the choir is to play the part of the crowd or a group of soldiers within the narrative. The choir also sings four meditations that offer reflection throughout the Passion. In the way that Bach used chorales to include his listening audience in the performance, Chilcott wrote five original hymns to familiar texts.
Written and first performed in 2013, Chilcott’s Passion made its US debut in 2015 but remains a relatively under performed work. Chilcott tells the drama and richness of the Passion story in a direct, but sensitive, manner. His use of English poetry from the 13th to early 17th centuries in the choral meditations express deeply human responses to death, life, and our relationship to the world and with God. Whether the listener approaches this piece from a musical or liturgical perspective, this Lower Hudson Valley premier of Bob Chilcott’s St. John Passion is sure to connect with the audience in a deeply moving and personal way.
The Observer has called Bob Chilcott “a contemporary hero of British choral music.” He is currently principal guest conductor of the BBC Singers and a prolific composer. He sang in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge both as a boy and as a university student, and was a member of the King’s Singers for 12 years. He was conductor of the chorus at the Royal College of Music in London for 7 years, and began composing in 1997. His work in various genres has been commissioned and performed worldwide; he often conducts his own premiers.
Grace Episcopal Church is located at 130 First Ave. Nyack – handicap-accessible via First Avenue entrance. Visit GraceMusicNyack.com to purchase tickets. St. John Passion tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. Children 12 and under are free.