Bach Mass in B Minor – Wigmore Hall Residency

“If music has the power to direct our entire existence towards nobleness, this music is great. Bach has achieved this.” Is there a piece in the entire Western musical canon that so fully embodies this sentiment? The B Minor Mass began its life as a job application, but was later assembled towards the end of Bach’s life as a statement of faith: in God, of course, but just as much in music: to offer healing, unity and promise. With its exhaustive compendium of musical styles (and his twin trademarks of mathematical genius and dancing feet) and complete mastery of composition, both musical and architectural, it speaks for the whole world. In directing us towards nobleness, Bach shows us – people of all faiths and of none – the oneness of humankind with the universe, and the responsibility of human life to do good and to seek beauty.

Bach’s Matthew Passion – Wigmore Hall Residency

Known even in Bach’s time as his ‘great’ Passion, the Matthew Passion lays out the narrative of Christ’s suffering and death in epic proportions: double chorus, double orchestra, and in music of staggering beauty and profundity. It unfolds with intractable dramatic momentum, as well as presenting a succession of tableaux that invite the listener to contemplate the many resonances of this journey. However, the work also suggests a more fundamental question: how, even in the depths of despair and subjected to grave injustice, humanity is able – through faith and through love – to find hope, consolation and joy.