Major Work 2018: St. Matthew Passion

Saturday, May 5, 2018 in Bailey Hall

A major endeavor of the coming year will be our 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 will be a tremendous challenge and inspiration for our members, and a historic occasion for audiences. We hope many alumni will make the trip back to hear us!

The St. Matthew Passion is an ambitious work, calling for double choir and double orchestra. We are working with the artistic leadership of NYS Baroque to contract and house our guest players, who will be joined by Cornell graduate students with professional expertise. Internationally renowned soloist Rufus Müller has agreed to join us as the tenor Evangelist, a central role, in addition to offering a vocal masterclass. This will 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.