It is uttered with such ease, yet weighs heavy in its substance: the word ‘passion’. We transfer it from its definition of Christ's suffering and death - in the Christian faith symbolising humankind’s redemption from the clutches of evil and the overcoming of its mortality - to our own personal passions. We frivolously associate ‘passion’ with our own cravings and obsessions, willingly neglecting the suffering that is always inherent. This dimension of the word’s essence normally only enters our consciousness when we are forced to relinquish that, about which we feel passionate. Music is our passion. It is so infinitely more than an interchangeable pastime, a profession with which to earn our keep, a gratifying accessory to spice up festive occasions, or simply a diversion. Momentous music does not disperse - it gathers and congregates. And the fact that the celebration of important festivals by means of music is fundamental to the people of all cultures is no coincidence, but a thing of necessity. Music is essential: it can assuage adversity. We need it not only to give vent to our joy, for Easter jubilation and other moments of delight. More fundamentally, we need music as a comforter, as an empathetic companion in times of crisis, as a source of resilience in the face of existential fear and in confrontation with our own mortality.
JS Bach’s St. John Passion from St. Thomas’s Church, Leipzig
Stream available from Good Friday, 2 April 2021, 15:00 CET until Easter Monday, 5 April 2021, 24:00 CET