Lenten concert benefits local charities

St. John Passion at the opera house

Mar 04, 2014
Artwork by: August Weger/Bibliotheque du Conservatoire de Musique, Paris, France Johann Sebastian Bach

Camden — The Camden Opera House will host a rare Lenten season performance of one of the masterworks of J.S. Bach, the St. John Passion, Sunday, March 16, at 2 p.m.

This community-based concert is under the direction of Anthony Antolini, conductor of the Down East Singers, and features a chorus of 40 singers and the Mozart Mentors Orchestra, of which Antolini is founder and director. In addition, soloists will sing the roles of the principal players in the crucifixion narrative. Jesus is portrayed by the pastor of Nativity Lutheran Church, Jerry LiaBraaten, and Pilate by Richard Fiske. The soprano soloist is Erin Chenard, with featured contralto Joelle Morris. The role of Evangelist is performed by David Myers.

This concert is staged as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nativity Lutheran Church in Rockport, and all profits are going to be divided between Hospitality House and the Rockland Food Bank. General admission tickets are $20; however, in order to generate as much of a donation as possible to these worthy community groups, concertgoers are asked to consider buying a $50 patron ticket. The floor of the Opera House will be reserved for patron seating.

The custom of dramatizing the passion story stems from the early Christian church and Bach's two extant works, based on the St. John and the St. Matthew texts, are the culminations of the form. Bach, unlike Handel, never wrote opera as such, but his genius in dramatic writing and mastery of Baroque operatic conventions is very much on display here. The chorus transforms itself from the observer and commentator to the bloodthirsty mob and back again; the settings of the sections range from free recitative style to emotional aria to fugal counterpoint to foursquare hymn. The result is a rich, associative tapestry of one of history's greatest musical minds in the service of one of history's greatest dramas.

Everyone is invited to join the musicians for an experience of community music making in the service of the community. For tickets, visit camdenoperahouse.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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