Bach: St Matthew Passion broadcast - Brussels, 2016

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Four years ago we held a 1 minute silence in memory of the victims of the Brussels attacks. On Friday 10 April we remembered not only those who died in Brussels, but also the victims of COVID-19, their families and everyone affected around the world.

Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Netherlands Youth Choir
John Eliot Gardiner - conductor

Evangelist: Mark Padmore
Jesus: Stephan Loges

Soprano soloists: Hannah Morrison, Jessica Cale
Alto soloists: Reginald Mobley, Clare Wilkinson, Eleanor Minney
Tenor soloists: Hugo Hymas, James Way
Bass soloists: Alex Ashworth, Nicholas Mogg, Jonathan Sells, Ashley Riches

This special Good Friday broadcast was recorded at BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts - Brussels on 23 March 2016 under exceptional circumstances. The Monteverdi ensembles were midway through an international tour of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, when the city was rocked by terrorist atrocities. It so happened that we were scheduled to perform Bach’s St Matthew Passion there on the evening after the attacks. On a day of great tension for all, it was agreed that the city’s lockdown and travel ban should be lifted so that the performance could take place, dedicated to the 32 victims of the previous day. A live streaming was hastily organised and the concert was broadcast across the city; it was one of our most emotionally-charged performances in recent memory.

At a time when similar tensions are felt across the world, and on an Easter weekend when places of worship are closed, Bach’s setting of the Passion seems to offer a message of hope. And whatever we believe, even though many of us may be physically distant from our friends and family, music has the power to unite us.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner introduces this performance by inviting the audience to observe a moment’s silence in memory of those who tragically lost their lives the previous day. We invite you all to use that short period of reflection to remember the victims of Covid-19 and their loved ones.

A live recording of the final performance of this 16-date tour was captured at Pisa Cathedral in September 2016 and released on our SDG label. The recording received critical acclaim and was subsequently nominated for the 2017 Gramophone Awards in the Baroque Vocal category. This landmark recording is available to purchase now from the MCO Shop.

This concert will be available to watch for 8 weeks following the initial broadcast - read about the tour and find song texts in the booklet below.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Affecting the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras

As you will be aware, the ever-evolving pandemic has caused concerts all over the world to be cancelled, and we too have already suffered several ‘force majeure’ cancellations; under these circumstances, financial obligations on both sides are nullified because the situation is beyond the control of either party. That means that no fee payments or insurance claims are applicable, so neither the MCO nor the self-employed musicians we engage are paid. The financial impact of these cancellations on our Charity and individual musicians is enormous.

What we are doing to Help Our Musicians

We are working hard to mitigate the consequences of these cancellations in any way we can, not only by striving to reschedule concerts and increasing our fundraising efforts but also by lobbying with public and private agencies on behalf of our musicians, keeping them informed of any alternative funding sources, helping them navigate new initiatives from government to access potential compensation, and supporting them until a time when any such subsidy might become available, or until live performances can resume. We are also exploring all avenues for alternative ways of providing work for them as professional musicians.

How You Can Help

The MCO receives no public funding and we rely greatly at all times on the generosity of our supporters to supplement income from live performances. With so much uncertainty around when live performances can resume, your donations are more crucial than ever. If you would like to help us support our wonderful musicians through this unprecedented crisis, please do so as generously as you wish: donations of any size are gratefully received. You can make a one-off donation via our website, or if you would like to find out about our various membership schemes, please click here.

From all at the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras: THANK YOU!