Bach epic to be performed

City Choir Dunedin will mark 300 years since J.S. Bach wrote his St John Passion with a pre-Easter performance of the epic oratorio on March 24.

The work, which has been a significant and enduring favourite of the choral and classical music repertoire, was last performed by City Choir Dunedin 14 years ago, in March 2010.

St John Passion is a haunting and dramatic musical depiction of the Easter story, based on the gospel of St John, and remains one of Bach’s most celebrated compositions.

Under the baton of conductor David Burchell, City Choir Dunedin will be accompanied by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and will showcase six soloists in the work — Iain Tetley, Patrick Shanahan, Caroline Burchell, Maaike Christie-Beekman, Lila Crichton and James Harrison.

The story is told by the key role of the Evangelist, who narrates the events in Christ’s life, and will be performed by tenor Tetley.

"It is an undertaking that I greatly enjoy, as it is such a large vocal part to learn," Tetley said.

"The magnitude of the role is a personal goal to attain, as it was when I sang as the Evangelist in Bach’s St Matthew Passion with City Choir Dunedin in 2018.

"As a performer I relish the responsibility of the storytelling, in a way that grips the audience and links all the rest of the music together," he said.

A Bach enthusiast, Burchell said the oratorio brought St John’s account of Christ’s trial and crucifixion to life with "vivid musical dramatisation".

"The music highlights the interaction of Pilate, Christ and the increasingly angry crowd, portrayed in short fiery choruses, and in the latter stages of the work highlights Christ’s stoic contemplation of his agony on the cross," Burchell said.

 - City Choir Dunedin presents Bach’s St John Passion, 4pm on Sunday, March 24, at the Dunedin Town Hall.

Tickets via the Regent Theatre box office, online via Ticketmaster, or phone 0800 111 999.