Suggested donation: $20 (orchestra seating); $15 (parterre/balcony); All ticket sales benefit the Conservatory Scholarship Fund.
Opening the first weekend in March is the annual oratorio St. John Passion by J. S. Bach. Conducted by Leon Botstein, members of the Conservatory Orchestra accompany tenor Rufus Müller, whom the New York Times has called “a sensational Evangelist,” in the title role of St. John the Evangelist, with Jesse Blumberg, baritone, “one of America’s great young baritones” (Opera Today), performing the role of Jesus Christus. The concert also features singers from the Bard College Chamber Singers and the Graduate Vocal Arts Program, with James Bagwell, choral director.
St. John Passion narrates the events of the last days of Jesus’s life, from his betrayal by Judas through the Crucifixion, as found in chapters 18 and 19 of John’s Gospel. Bard College visiting associate professor Peter Laki says, “One of St. John Passion’s most striking characteristics, which became particularly important in Lutheranism, is the view that Christ’s death on the cross was truly a spiritual victory. Accordingly, the general mood of mourning . . . is tempered in St. John by repeated affirmation of Christ’s glory and eternal life.” The emphasis on triumph and glorification is driven home by the final chorale, which ends with a resounding praise of the victorious “Lord Jesus Christ.”
Written in 1724 and the first of Bach’s two Passions, St. John Passion was revised several times until 1729. This performance is a composite of the different versions (not all of which survived in full).