JS Bach’s St John and later his St Matthew Passion were much more passionate and theatrical than any that preceded them and the term “Passion” has become synonymous in music with these, its two greatest examples.



Australian Chamber Choir
Melbourne Baroque Orchestra
directed by Douglas Lawrence

The ACC presents the shorter, punchier St John with an orchestra of period instruments. Many of the instruments chosen for this work were rarely heard even in Bach’s time. Supplementing the usual orchestra of strings, oboes, flutes and continuo, Bach scored for two viola d’amores, two oboes d’amore, two oboes da caccia and viola da gamba in order to lend a distinctive and contrasting sound to some of the solo arias. When such a work is performed using modern instruments, much of its unique character is lost. We are fortunate to have the finest specialist instrumentalists to inspire you with an exciting and authentic sound.

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Why the St John? It's the product of a turning point in Bach's life. He had just begun as Cantor at St Thomas' Leipzig, an important position that he would hold for the rest of his life. This was the first major work, written for his first Easter, so of course it's designed to impress. It is short, texturally fascinating, highly dramatic and I think that Bach's excitement at this important stage in his life is palpable.

Douglas Lawrence