St Matthew Passion
The performance of the St Matthew Passion on 17 July will be one of the most splendid musical events of 2010. This huge work, with two adult choirs, a children's choir, two orchestras and five soloists, dramatizes events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ as told in St Matthew's Gospel.
With so much musical talent on the Sunshine Coast, it is now possible to present this amazing, thrilling and complex work. Three Sunshine Coast choirs - Sunshine Coast Choral Society, Noosa Chorale and Sunshine Coast Grammar School Children's Choir - will join forces with 50 musicians and 5 soloists to perform St Matthew Passion on Saturday 17 July at 2.30pm at 'The Lake' Kawana Community Centre, Sportsman's Parade, Bokarina.
Adrian King, whose reputation for presenting wonderful musical concerts on the Coast continues to grow, will conduct this massive work. Adrian has brought together some outstanding soloists for this performance. Gregory Massingham, the Head of Opera at the Queensland Conservatorium, will sing the demanding role of the Evangelist. Other soloists are soprano Anita Parakh-Morgan, alto Susan Chapman, tenor Martin Paroz and bass Brett Holland.
The St Matthew Passion is an extraordinary work, hailed by many as one of the most challenging and ambitious musical compositions in the entire Western tradition. It is a work of dramatic action and devotional reflection interweaved with phenomenal skill by Bach to produce one of the greatest moving musical and emotional experiences.
Bach uses four major musical devises to great effect. Recitative is used, especially by the Evangelist, to tell the story and move the action on. Arias are sung by the other four soloists to emphasise the emotional experience. Chorales are sung by the choirs which, with their quiet beauty and poignancy, lift the audience into a realm of sublime beauty and spiritual awe. Finally, musically thrilling and often strident outbursts from the choirs heighten the drama, tension and excitement. This is truly a work of musical genius.
Recently a heart-warming 2-part documentary was shown on SBS called "A Boy Called Alex". Alex Stobbs, a music student with cystic fibrosis, had a passion to conduct the St Matthew Passion. This documentary followed Alex on his quest to fulfill his dream and culminated with his concert in front of over 800 people in London. Throughout Alex suffered greatly with low energy levels and extreme shortness of breath from his damaged lungs. He even had to be hospitalized before and after the concert.
The extraordinary thing about this story, apart from Alex's superhuman determination and obvious musical talent, is why he chose such a monumental work to conduct which involved three separate choirs, two orchestras and five soloists. As a young cathedral chorister, he sang in the St Matthew Passion and it had a major impact on him. He calls it "total art" and says it is some of the most powerful music ever composed.
Alex's mentor and music teacher gives an insight into why this work means so much to Alex. He describes the St Matthew Passion as plumbing the depths of despair, betrayal and ultimately of death but in expressing this despair, Bach's music rises up above to bring blissful hope and joy to everyone. This resonates with Alex whose illness takes him into depths of despair with the ultimate knowledge that he will not live a long life. However, Alex finds such joy and delight in this music that he transcends his weaknesses.
Don't miss your chance to hear for yourselves what Alex felt so passionately about. Come and experience for yourselves the beauty of this wonderful musical masterpiece.
You can take advantage of an early bird ticket offer till 30 June at $30 or get a group discount ticket (for groups of 10 or more) at $28 each. Full price tickets are $33. Bookings 5444 3899. Tickets also available at Annie's Books (Peregian Beach), Book City (Noosa Civic), The River Read (Noosaville) and Written Dimensions (Noosa Junction)
EXPLANATION OF PAINTING
ST. MATTHEW PASSION
Coming from a "Christian" upbringing, Bach's St Matthew Passion naturally evoked images of Christ on the cross with the usual spear-bearing Roman soldier, the gathering of the crowds and the thunderous sky as a threatening backdrop. The bible is such a great source of imagery for artists to draw upon and indeed, there has been no shortage of great art illustrating "The St Matthew Passion". Those that come to mind are the Crucifixion by Nicholas Poussin and in recent times by Canadian William Kurelek. This was the imagery that I expected from my participation in Bach's great work.
However, for me, the first words of the chorus "Come, come ye daughters and share my mourning...." struck such an emotional chord that the lump rose in my throat and affected me deeply. The imagery was strong and I did try to deny its presence. However, when the image became a recurring one, I had to deal with it.
In my mind's eye, I saw the grief that mothers, wives and partners have borne across the ages and across cultures. It is grief at being aware that their child, like Christ, has been taken away from them: be it in war, famine, natural disasters, racial, religious and political persecution, mental and physical illness, etc. For me, the cross should be a symbol of pain and sorrow, perhaps forgiveness, but I cannot reconcile myself with the barbarity of this act and I could not bring myself to represent it as a major part of the picture. That is, even though it is a very strong element of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. I approached it with a female perspective. The women are the ones who bear the cross, they never forget the moment of birth of their child and when that child is taken away, the tears never dry despite great fortitude and the inner strength that they find within themselves to keep going.
In the painting, I have left the female face very simply done in monotone straight onto the canvas, raw. There is no layering of colour. I have used one colour only to keep in with the simplicity that women expect of their lives. The pink tears represent the softness of the woman while at the same time; the pain is shown through the blood-stained tear that goes down her face. That and the necklace are the only indulgence in another colour. To my mind, it is a strong representation of the paradox of love and suffering.
"St Matthew Passion"
Photo of original painting of the face printed on canvas paper.
Background with cross, painted later directly on the canvas paper.
The original (without the cross) Acrylic on stretched canvas, remains in Anne-Marie's collection.
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