Major Work 2018: St. Matthew Passion

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The Chorus and Glee Club performed J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Bailey Hall. 

Thank you to all of the talented performers with whom we had the honor of sharing the stage! We would also like to thank our generous sponsors for making this monumental performance possible and for allowing us to share one of Bach's greatest works with students and community members alike. 


Our 2018 Major Work was a joint performance with the Glee Club of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, in collaboration with thirty-odd professional early music instrumentalists and six world-class vocal soloists. This monumental piece, considered by many musicologists and performers as the single greatest major work in the western canon, has not been performed at Cornell — or indeed anywhere in Ithaca — since 1957. It was a tremendous challenge and inspiration for our members, and a historic occasion for audiences. 

The St. Matthew Passion is an ambitious endeavor, calling for a double choir and a double orchestra. We had the pleasure of working with the artistic leadership of NYS Baroque to contract and house our guest players, who were joined by Cornell graduate students with professional expertise. Internationally renowned soloist Rufus Müller joined us as the tenor Evangelist, a central role, and offered a vocal masterclass earlier in the semester. This was truly be a year-long process of immersion, with background study of the piece in its historical context beginning in the fall (the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) — including a visit from J.S. Bach’s own choir, the Thomaskirche of Leipzig — and then musical preparation throughout the spring leading up to the performance at Bailey Hall.

For further information about this performance, please visit