St. Matthew Passion - "The Pinnacle"

Chicago Bach Project 2014 St. Matthew Passion  

Two-hundred and eighty-seven years to the date of the first performance of J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1727, the Chicago Bach Project returned to the beginning of its cycle of Bach masterworks on Friday, April 11, 2014, to offer the "Great Passion" to a resoundingly appreciative audience at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park (Chicago) and to a world-wide audience via live streaming on WFMT.com.

To say that it was a night to remember hardly contains the musical excitement of the evening. The concert reviews convey the essence of the concert's palpable energy and excellence:

"A MUSIC DRAMA FOR TODAY"
"Chicago Bach Project performances ... are now an ongoing Lenten tradition and among the highlights of the classical music season. [Nelson] led a splendid team of soloists, chorus and orchestra in a moving account of one of the great monuments of Western music. This was the pinnacle of the Bach performances I have heard him direct thus far in the city.... Nelson treated the Passion not as a Protestant religious rite but as a living music drama with universal resonance. His long and dedicated involvement with Bach's sacred music was reflected particularly in his sensitive shaping of the chorales that serve as the Passion's mighty pillars of faith."
—John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

 

  John Nelson, conductor
  John Nelson, conductor

"A WORTHY ST. MATTHEW PASSION"
"Nelson’s Bach style is ... a convincing blend of stately spirituality and expressive poise with bristling dramatic bite."—Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

 

"VIEW OF THE SUMMIT"
"The annual Chicago Bach Project made its ... appearance on Friday night at The Harris Theater for Art and Dance with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and the venue itself reveals how large this annual event has become.... Nelson’s interpretation was hugely ambitious and produced results equal to its effort and preparation.... The dramatic effect of this superlative, emotional work was not lost on anyone, the orchestras, the soloists, the choruses, or the maestro, who all gave a performance that could not have been more committed or precise."
—Adam Dahlgren, Splash Magazine

 

 

 

Chicago Bach Choir   Chicago Bach Project orchestra
 Chicago Bach Choir    Chicago Bach Orchestra

 

  

 

Nicholas Phan   Stephen Morscheck
 Nicholas Phan, Evangelist    Stephen Morscheck, Jesus

   

 

  

Lisette Oropesa     Lisette Oropesa and Lawrence Zazzo
Lisette Oropesa     Lisette Oropesa and Lawrence Zazzo
     
Nicholas Phan and John Nelson    Matthew Brook and John Nelson
Nicholas Phan and John Nelson    John Nelson and Matthew Brook 
     
Nicholas Phan and Tobias Greenhalgh    Colin Ainsworth and John Nelson
Nicholas Phan, Tobias Greenhalgh, and John Nelson     Colin Ainsworth and John Nelson 
     
John Nelson

      

 Photos courtesy of EElan Photography and Antony J. Caldaroni