Bitterroot Baroque presents the Passion of Christ

As part of the 15th Annual Montana Early Music Festival, the Musikanten Montana will perform J.S. Bach’s “Johannespassion,” the Passion of Christ according to the Gospel of St. John, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 31, at St. Francis Xavier Church in Missoula.

As a prelude to Easter, people will be able to enjoy the music of J.S. Bach’s “Johannespassion,” the "Passion of Christ" according to the Gospel of St. John, March 29 - April 1, in four cities across Montana, including Missoula.

The performances are given by Musikanten Montana and Bitterroot Baroque at the 15th Annual Montana Early Music Festival.

The closes performance is presented by Bitterroot Baroque at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 31, at St. Francis Xavier in Missoula.

Musikanten Artistic Director Kerry Krebill formed the choir and ensemble that has performed nearly 1,000 performances in 31 seasons. Musikanten has performed in The National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Kennedy Center, many states and 19 international tours, including Venice, Buenos Aires, La Plata and Ayacucho, Argentina.

Krebill said for the “Johannespassion” Bach’s text is taken directly from the Gospel of St. John.

“The tenor Evangelist sings the narration of the scripture, with a bass singing Jesus’ words and a baritone the speeches of Pilate,” she said. “The chorus sings the words of the angry crowd as they demand the crucifixion.  Soloists reflect in moving arias the feelings of those present that last day, and the choir changes roles to sing the serene Lutheran chorales interspersed in this dramatic scene.” 

Krebill will conduct Denver tenor Daniel Hutchings as the Evangelist, with other favorite Festival soloists Bobb Robinson (bass), Robert Tudor as Pilate and Marjorie Bunday. Newcomers are Art Bumgardner (bass) as Jesus, Jason Rylander (tenor) and Kathryn Radakovich (soprano).

Krebill said the choir is accompanied by 13 orchestra musicians who are Early Music specialists, from Seattle, New York, Minneapolis and Indianapolis. They will play instruments of Bach’s time – Baroque strings, viola da gamba, oboe d’amore and oboe di caccia, flauti traversi and harpsichord.

“These historically informed performances of Bach’s moving setting of Jesus’ last day on earth coincide with the Lenten period of penitence and reflection leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, adding a spiritual dimension to the concert experience,” Krebill said.

All performances of the 15th Annual Montana Early Music Festival are held at 7:30 p.m. The performances are Wednesday, March 29, at Holy Rosary Parish in Bozeman; Thursday, March 30, at Immaculate Conception in Butte; Friday, March 31, at St. Francis Xavier at 420 W. Pine in Missoula (presented by Bitterroot Baroque) and the final Passion performance is Saturday, April 1, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Helena.

Krebill said the Helena Lutheran Church was “chosen especially because Bach was a devout Lutheran and 2017 is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s disputation.”

Tickets are available at Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton, Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula and at the door: $30 general admission and $10 students. For more information, contact Bitterroot Baroque at 314-852-5099.