FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONCORA Media Contact: Sarah Hager Johnston
ADDRESS: CONCORA, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT 06103
CONCORA performs Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion March 25 in Hartford
Artistic Director Chris Shepard leads three choirs, vocal soloists, and members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in music that Bach considered to be his finest composition
HARTFORD AND NEW BRITAIN, CONN. (February 27, 2018) — Continuing a decades-long tradition of Bach concerts in Hartford, CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists), the region’s oldest all-professional choral ensemble, presents a performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion on Sunday, March 25, 2018, 4:00 PM, at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, CT. CONCORA’s Artistic Director Chris Shepard will lead a large performing ensemble which includes CONCORA’s professional vocalists; the Treble Clef Choir of Saint Patrick-Saint Anthony Church in Hartford (Pamela Frigo Johnson, director); numerous vocal soloists; and members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
CONCORA has long been known for its inspired performances of choral music by Johann Sebastian Bach; in 1996, the ensemble offered its first all-Bach program, beginning a popular concert series that has continued without interruption for more than 30 years. The annual presentations of Bach’s cantatas, motets, and larger works, including the Magnificat, the monumental B Minor Mass, and the Passions, are eagerly anticipated.
“In the 2017-2018 season, when CONCORA is presenting the greatest choral masterworks, the Saint Matthew Passion was a natural choice for our annual Bach concert,” said Chris Shepard, the ensemble’s Artistic Director. “All of Bach’s music is magnificent, but the Saint Matthew Passion is generally regarded as the pinnacle of Bach’s entire output. Even Bach himself regarded it as his best work.”
A Passion oratorio is a musical setting of Biblical verses and poetical interpolations that tell the story of Christ’s Passion. Though Bach composed several Passions, only two survive: the Passion According to Saint John and the Saint Matthew Passion. In 2016, CONCORA presented the moving Saint John Passion, with an innovative visual accompaniment of selected images from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The upcoming performance of the Saint Matthew Passion on March 25 is a bookend to that event.
Due to its length and complexity, and the virtuosity required of the singers who perform it, the Saint Matthew Passion is not performed as often as oratorios by other Baroque composers such as Handel and Vivaldi. CONCORA last performed this music in 2001, and it has rarely been heard in the Hartford area at any time.
Calling for three choirs, vocal soloists, and orchestra, the Saint Matthew Passion is a play within a play: Bach frames the entire work with monumental choral movements that set the scene. Within this frame, an Evangelist narrates the story from the Gospel of Matthew; vocal soloists sing the roles of Christ, Pilate, Peter, and other characters; and vocal soloists present arias that offer lyrical contemplations on the story. The three choruses take on various roles – participants in the action of the story, observers, and individuals who grapple with issues of personal faith and redemption—requiring all to sing with a wide range of vocal color, dynamics, and mood.
The role of the Evangelist will be sung by tenor Jack Anthony Pott. Baritone Jermaine Woodard, Jr., will sing the role of Christ, and baritone Stephan Barnicle will sing Pilate. Arias will be sung by CONCORA sopranos Louise Fauteux and Anne Collin; mezzo-sopranos Pamela Frigo Johnson, Cynthia Mellon, and Margaret Tyler; tenors Kirk Bobkowski and Mark Child; and baritones Paul Tine and Alex Patrie.
The Saint Matthew Passion offers some of Bach’s grandest music, while exploring in the most intimate terms the very nature of faith and redemption. During his lifetime, Bach conducted the Saint Matthew Passion in Holy Week services several times, and CONCORA’s March 25 presentation is on Palm Sunday, the first day of the Christian Holy Week.
“Listeners for whom Holy Week is a time of reflection and penitence will experience the Saint Matthew Passion as a moving and meaningful Lenten meditation. But no matter what your belief – and even if you are not a religious person at all – this is a deeply personal, soul-searching experience, and that is true for the performers as well as the listeners,” said Shepard. “Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Bach as a composer is his ability to plumb the human experience and to express it in musical terms in a way that moves each of us profoundly. With this remarkable work, Bach takes us far beyond a mere musical experience.”
The Worcester Telegram called CONCORA’s 2017 presentation of Bach cantatas “Stunning... intoxicating... enthralling... beguiling... soaring.” Early reservations are recommended for this special event.
What: Choral Concert: Music of Johann Sebastian Bach performed by the professional choir CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) and members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
Program: Saint Matthew Passion (complete), BWV244
When: Sunday, March 25, 2018, 4:00 PM
Where: Immanuel Congregational Church, 10 Woodland Street, Hartford, CT
Tickets: $15-$65. Discounted rates are available for general admission and senior tickets for groups of 8 or more. 2-for-1 general admission tickets are available with the Let*s Go! Arts card; contact the CONCORA office for details.
Reserve Tickets at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bach-saint-matthew-passion-tickets-35017689853 or 860-293-0567 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are also available at the door on the day of the concert, though advance reservations are recommended for preferred seating.
More Info: www.concora.org or 860-293-0567 or email@example.com
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Interviews: For more information, or to schedule an interview with CONCORA Artistic Director Chris Shepard or any of the featured soloists, please contact Sarah Hager Johnston, CONCORA VP for Marketing and Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-676-2228.
Images: Included below are photos of CONCORA and CONCORA's Artistic Director Chris Shepard.
About CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) – CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) holds a unique place as the region’s first professional choir. Now in its 44th season, the ensemble enjoys an extraordinary reputation for artistic excellence throughout New England. Under the direction of Artistic Director Chris Shepard, the ensemble’s versatility is displayed in its wide range of repertoire and in the crafting of select ensembles from among the choir’s roster of singers to produce an extraordinary range of choral color and dynamic range for each program and performance space. CONCORA’s mission statement – “to perpetuate and perform with excellence choral music of the highest quality for the broadest possible audience” – represents a commitment to the Connecticut community and to artistic excellence, masterful performances, and educational enrichment. CONCORA’s educational outreach program includes several highly successful projects. CONCORA extends special invitations to other choruses, especially children’s, high school and college ensembles, as a regular part of its concert programming, particularly the “Extraordinary Concerts,” where the ensemble collaborates with select high school choirs. CONCORA’s Summer Festival offers adult singers from the community and select high school and college singers an opportunity to join with CONCORA in rehearsing and performing great choral works. For children, the CONCORA-to-Go quartet presents an interactive, multicultural program, “Around the World in Music,” performed in area elementary schools and public libraries. More information about CONCORA is available at www.concora.org.
About CONCORA’s Artistic Director Chris Shepard – Chris Shepard has served as CONCORA’s Artistic Director since 2015, succeeding founder Richard Coffey in that role. He also serves as Music Director of the Worcester Chorus and the Masterwork Chorus of Morristown, New Jersey. With these choirs, Chris has performed a wide range of repertoire, collaborating with a number of major orchestras in venues that include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Radio City Music Hall in New York, as well as the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. A conductor with a particular affinity for the choral music of J.S. Bach, Chris founded the Sydneian Bach Choir in Sydney, Australia, an ensemble that has performed all of Bach’s choral cantatas as well as all of his major choral works. He has taught at the Taft School, Sydney Grammar School and Holy Cross College. A pianist and keyboard continuist, Chris holds degrees from the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music, and the University of Sydney. His PhD dissertation won the American Choral Directors Association’s 2012 Julius Herford Prize for outstanding doctoral thesis in choral music. A fuller bio of Chris Shepard is available at http://www.concora.org/artistic-leadership.html.
CONCORA Media Contact: Sarah Hager Johnston
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Media phone: 860-676-2228
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Office phone: 860-293-0567
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