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Huggett, PBO deliver best of Bach in "new" St John

  • Jan 5, 2011
(Updated) EUGENE -The urgency, immediacy, and drama of Bach's great St. John Passion come to the fore in a historically-informed  concert featuring Monica Huggett and the Portland Baroque Orchestra Thursday, March 10 in Beall Hall. Soloist Charles Daniels, Les Voix Baroques, and Capella Romana complete the ensemble of 24 in this leaner and more transparent approach to the score. Tickets for the Eugene concert start at $26 and are available online via the Hult Center or call 541-682-5000. While the Passion is one of the monuments of Western art music, the composer's definitive and final version is lost to us, if in fact one was ever completed. Violinist Monica Huggett will direct the PBO and the ensembles in a new approach that aims to capture the directness, immediacy, and urgency of the music as it would have been heard in Bach's St. Thomas Church in 1724. [caption id="attachment_3604" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Monica Huggett"][/caption] Parts traditionally heard on flute are here performed on either violin or oboe, more likely choices for Bach given the musical resources available to him at the time. The choral forces, while fewer in number, are just the right size for the acoustics of Beall Hall. Huggett and PBO oboist Gonzalo Ruiz took this historically-informed approach for their 2009 recording of Bach's Orchestral Suites, and were rewarded with a Grammy Award nomination. These revisions are more than a scholarly exercise, as Tom Cirillo, PBO executive director, explains. "Above all else, these performances will endeavor to engage all audience members—those familiar with the Passion on period instruments and those hearing it for the first time," Cirillo said. "Our goal is for them to more profoundly be moved by the genius of Bach’s composition and the undeniable spiritual connection he had to the Gospel text." The 24 musicians are about half of the typical modern performance, but they are among the world's best in this field. In addition to her acclaim as the PBO music director, Huggett is the first director of The Juilliard School’s early music program. [caption id="attachment_3605" align="alignright" width="100" caption="Shannon Mercer is soprano soloist"][/caption] The English tenor Daniels has been heard as a soloist on more than 80 recordings, and has performed with such eminent organizations as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, the King’s Consort, and the Monteverdi Soloists, sings the pivotal role of The Evangelist. From Montreal, six members of Les Voix Baroques double as the chorus while performing the traditional solo parts. Soprano Shannon Mercer is at the top of her career, with rave reviews from this season's concerts in Toronto. Members of the professional chorus Cappella Romana join the soloists to enhance the sound in the larger scale movements. PBO's St John Passion will also be performed in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC, and recorded for CD in the days following the Eugene performance. All performances of PBO’s St. John Passion in 2011 are presented in honor of Early Music America’s 25th Anniversary, www.earlymusic.org

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