Choirs unite to present Bach’s St. John Passion at two concerts

Valley Festival Singers and TWU Masterworks Chorus perform in Abbotsford and Surrey

The Valley Festival Singers, together with Trinity Western University’s Masterworks Chorus and Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Joel Tranquilla, present Bach’s St. John Passion at two upcoming concerts.

The first concert is on Saturday, March 24 at Trinity Christian Reformed Church (3215 Trethewey St.) in Abbotsford.

The second is on Sunday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church (9165 160 St.) in Surrey.

Bach’s St. John Passion is one of the most beloved and important works in the choral-orchestral repertoire.

It was likely first performed on Good Friday in 1724, which was the first Holy Week of J.S. Bach’s tenure as Kapellmeister at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, a position which would span 27 years of the composer’s life and prompt an astonishing output of liturgical service music.

“Moving far beyond mere description and narration of scriptural events, the St. John Passion evokes wonderment and awe at the power and significance of Christ’s sacrifice,” Tranquilla says.

The performances are the culmination of months of rehearsing with three choirs, soloists and orchestra. Audiences can expect to see more than 100 musicians on stage as they bring the story to life.

The oratorio is recounted through solo recitative and aria, alongside passionate ensemble crowd scenes as well as reflective commentaries that are presented in the form of chorales and solo arias.

The choirs have been rehearsing separately since January, joining for select rehearsals to bring the work together.

Tranquilla says audience members can expect it to be a solemn experience as the music “lives in that dark place.” Yet the audience can also expect to be moved by music that is simply “sublime.”

“Whether you come to this music from a Christian context or not, whether you understand German or not, there is no doubt that the music itself is so compelling that it will speak to all who attend these concerts,” he says.

There will be supertitles as well as program notes to aid concert goers in the understanding of the story that is being told.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $10 for students, and free for kids 10 and under.

Tickets are available at eventbrite.ca, at House of James in Abbotsford, from choir members and at the door.

Visit valleyfestivalsingers.com for more information.

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