March 23, 24, 25
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir
Directed by Ivars Taurins
Myriam Leblanc soprano
Krisztina Szabó mezzo-soprano
James Gilchrist Evangelist and tenor soloist
William Sharp Jesus and baritone soloist
Jonathon Adams Petrus, Pilatus, and baritone soloist
Toronto, February 17, 2023 … One of the highlights of Tafelmusik’s 2022/23 season is Bach’s St John Passion, a profound work based on text from the Gospel according to John, March 23, 24 & 25 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Projections of illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible, a contemporary work of art that unites ancient Benedictine traditions with the vision of today, will complement these performances directed by Ivars Taurins while offering a deeper understanding of the context around the St John Passion. Tickets and details are available at tafelmusik.org.
In a project that spanned 13 years, commissioned in 1998 by Saint John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota and headed by renowned British calligrapher Donald Jackson, a team of 20 contemporary scribes and artists created a hand-lettered seven-volume illuminated bible. Using gold leaf and hand-ground inks and pigments, The Saint John’s Bible contains 160 large-scale illuminations on vellum that incorporate many of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. Saint John’s University has graciously given permission for Tafelmusik to complement its performances with projections of a selection of these illuminations.
Thanks to a collaboration with Regis College at the University of Toronto, two volumes of the limited facsimile edition of The Saint John’s Bible will also be on display at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre during each performance. The audience is invited to view this work of art created for a new millennium, one that offers “a reaching out and openness to those who are on the margins” (CBC Tapestry).
“I see the illuminations not only bringing a striking visual element of remarkable artistry to Bach’s masterpiece, but sharing in the universality of the spiritual messages that each work offers,” says Choir Director Ivars Taurins. “They offer the audience the opportunity, in the words of theologian Henri Nouwen, to truly ‘step into and walk around’ the spirituality of the illuminations, while experiencing Bach’s music.”
Harrowing, passionate, and tender by turn, the St John Passion reflects our world as well as Bach’s. Through a series of recitatives, arias, choruses, and chorales, the Passion tells the story of Christ’s crucifixion. It refuses to shy away from the darkness inherent in the tale, which makes the final transformation of pain and grief into faith and love all the more powerful. The music is by turns intense, contemplative, and intimate, bringing the humanity of the story to life. Bach reworked the score each time St John Passion was presented in Leipzig during his lifetime. Tafelmusik will perform the final version, which Bach prepared for the Good Friday service in 1749, a year before his death.
Bach St. John Passion
Mar 23 & 24 at 7:30pm; Mar 25 at 3:30pm
Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
Ivars Taurins directs Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, along with guest soloists Myriam Leblanc soprano; Krisztina Szabó mezzo-soprano; James Gilchrist Evangelist and tenor soloist; William Sharp Jesus and baritone soloist; and Jonathon Adams Petrus, Pilatus, and baritone soloist.
Tickets start at $30 and are available at tafelmusik.org
Tafelmusik gratefully acknowledges the support of BMO, Presenting Sponsor of the 2022/23 concert season. We are also grateful to our government partners, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and to our Media Partner The New Classical 96.3 FM.
Tafelmusik is an orchestra, choir, and experience that celebrates beauty through music of the past. Founded over 40 years ago on the pillars of passion, learning, and artistic excellence, Tafelmusik continues to bring new energy to baroque music and beyond. Historically informed performances of 17th- to 19th-century instrumental and choral music share the stage with vibrant, insightful multimedia programs, and bold new music written just for the group. Each piece is played on period instruments, underscored and illuminated by scholarship.
Through dynamic performances, international touring, award-winning recordings, and comprehensive education programs, Tafelmusik invites audiences to engage with beauty and experience the breadth of emotion music can inspire.
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