February 26, 2016
“There is nothing like it in all music” – so said Leonard Bernstein about Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, one of the most powerful, challenging and thrilling choral works ever written.
On March 6, the Meadows Chorale of SMU Meadows School of the Arts and the Conservatory Singers and Conservatory Orchestra of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) will present St. Matthew Passion in a free public concert at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. The concert will be conducted by Dr. Robert Bode, director of choral activities at UMKC.
St. Matthew Passion is a dramatic retelling of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. First performed in 1727 during Good Friday services at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, it is today considered “one of the pillars of Western sacred music, at once monumental and intimate, deeply sorrowful and powerful” (NPR).
The first part of the work includes the last supper and the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; the second part portrays Christ’s trial, crucifixion and burial. The work was written for multiple choruses and includes arias for specific characters, including Jesus, Judas, Peter and Pontius Pilate, with narration by the role of the Evangelist.
Preparation for the concert has been under way for months. “St. Matthew Passion is one of the monumental masterworks of the choral/orchestral repertoire,” said Pamela Elrod Huffman, director of the Meadows choirs. “It’s an enormous undertaking, and one that few college choirs would attempt. We have spent the entire school year preparing for this!”
The Meadows Chorale was invited by UMKC to jointly perform the work in two concerts. In addition to the Dallas event, the groups will present St. Matthew Passion at the American Choral Directors Association Southwest Regional Convention in Kansas City on March 8.
The St. Matthew Passion concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6 at Highland Park United Methodist Church, 3300 Mockingbird Lane in Dallas (75205). Admission is free and no tickets are required. In lieu of admission, the choirs ask attendees to make a donation to the North Texas Food Bank through ntfb.org; cash donations or nonperishable food items for the food bank will also be accepted at the concert. For more information, contact the Meadows box office at 214-768-2787.
About the Community Series:
The concert is part of the Meadows School’s Community Series. Launched in fall 2013, the series is designed to bring Meadows performances into the community, feature the work of talented students and engage new audiences at diverse venues in Dallas. The final community concert of the season will feature the Meadows Jazz Orchestra at Dallas City Performance Hall on April 12; for tickets and more information, visit http://mcs.smu.edu/calendar/node/1417.