Choir singing Saint Matthew’s Passion in the Netherlands.
Passion for Saint Matthew’s Passion in the Netherlands
It has become a tradition in the Netherlands: to listen to, attend or participate in a performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew’s Passion. Annually, hundreds of churches and concert halls stage a performance of this 3.5 hour musical narrative of the suffering of Christ. Besides performances by professional orchestras and choirs, we also see a growth of amateur choirs and initiatives. The ‘sing-along-Passion’, for instance, has become a popular manner for non-professional singers to participate in a performance of Bach’s magnum opus.
We investigate the history of Bach’s Passion in the Netherlands, how Bach’s magnum opus functions as a reference point for debates about high-culture and low-culture, the superiority of the West versus others and about what it means to be Dutch, but we also focus on the people that participate in these Passions. What motivates people to participate in such events? Are these related to religion or not at all? What motivates an individual that has left religion behind in the sixties, to sing about Christ in a church? What passions does the Saint Matthew’s Passion arouse in the Netherlands?