© Randy Kühn / Universität Leipzig

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Performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion by the Leipzig University Choir

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Performance of the Leipzig University Choir with Bach's St Matthew Passion

The St Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach was the first performance that the Leipzig University Choir had to postpone in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now, finally, three years later, the last of the postponed concerts can be performed on 01 April at 6pm in the Paulinum - Aula and University Church of St Paul. It is also special that the St Matthew Passion will be heard in the University Church for the first time in 55 years; it was last performed there on 04 April 1968, just a few weeks before it was blown up on 30 May 1968. Despite the silence in the University Church, the St Matthew Passion remained relevant in times of the GDR regime, as is shown in a review by Karl Liebknecht. For him, apart from the St Matthew Passion, there was nothing "sweeter, more tender, more touching". At the same time, the University Choir opens the concert season for the 2023 summer semester with the St Matthew Passion, setting a musical highlight right at the start. As usual, it will perform side by side with the Pauline Baroque Ensemble on period instruments and under the direction of University Music Director David Timm.
The first performance of the St Matthew Passion took place on 11 April 1727 in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The Swallow's Nest organ of the Thomaskirche was only available again shortly before the performance, similar to the Swallow's Nest organ of the University Church, which had only recently been completed. The fact that both organs could be used was important, because the scale of the instrumentation is particularly impressive in the St Matthew Passion: not only is a double choir required, but five soloists and two orchestras are also called upon. Bach used the Gospel of Matthew in Martin Luther's translation as a textual model. Christian Friedrich Henrici, known as Picander, compiled further literary material. Not only his own poetry was used, but also texts by Paul Gerhardt, Barthold Hinrich Brockes, Johann Friedrich Hunold and a cycle of sermons by the Rostock theologian Heinrich Müller. On a musical level, the St Matthew Passion can hardly be put into words - so we cordially invite you to make your own impression and let the interpretation of the Leipzig University Choir take effect on you. We look forward to your visit!

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