Monday was the first concert in our long St Matthew Passion tour around Europe in time for Easter, which saw the OAE journey to the west of England to St George’s Bristol. As I’m sure the St Matthew Passion is going to gain plenty of coverage in the blog in the next few weeks or so, I’d like to blog about the pre-concert event.  The title of the event was ‘The OAE’s look at the development of the Passion’ and we decided to do something a little bit different by combining a film showing of an Education project that had taken place in Bristol earlier in the Spring, with an insightful introduction from Mark Padmore about how he with the OAE has approached the performance of the Passion this time round, and the challenges of being without a conductor.

Firstly we had the challenge of setting up the stage to show the film with a mere 15 minutes following the end of the afternoon rehearsal – thanks to the team at St George’s this all went very smoothly.  OAE violinist Hetty Wayne who had been involved with the film project briefly introduced the film and then we had the delight of watching how a group of teenagers had interpreted the passion.  It really was very beautifully captured by filmmaker Claudia Lee.  I absolutely loved seeing how young people interpret old stories and bring them to modern relevance, it shows that the controversial issues raised within the passion do still very much translate to what is going on in the world in 2009!

Mark then took to the stage to describe the past week’s rehearsal process with the OAE and also a bit about the Passion in Bach’s time.  I discovered that Bach only heard the piece 4 times in his life and only ever on Good Friday.  The performance in Berlin on Good Friday is going to feel very special then!  It was a shame for the audience that the event had to end, so there was time to rest before the concert as hands were popping up full of questions!

The event will be repeated again at 5.45pm in the Level 5 function Room at the Royal Festival Hall on the 9th April so do come along to find out more…

Ceri Jones, Projects Manager

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