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Episodes #7 & 8:
Good Friday/Easter Edition

Bach St. John Passion
Made possible by generous support from ROBERT CONRAD

Apollo’s Fire is thrilled to release this beautifully filmed video of J.S. Bach’s first oratorio masterpiece, the St. John Passion (1724).

An acclaimed touring production from 2016, Jeannette Sorrell’s “dramatic presentation” of the St. John Passion brings Bach’s most theatrical oratorio to life with contemporary immediacy. The program was performed in four cities and filmed at the stunning Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland.
Bursting out of the starting gates from the agitated opening chorus, the dramatic events of Jesus’ final days unfold with compelling storytelling. An international cast of singer-actors brings the characters to life, while the renowned chorus Apollo’s Singers evoke the wild mob with fierce intensity.
Below are links to the filmed performance as well as two video interviews with guest artists Nicholas Phan (Evangelist) and Jeffrey Strauss (Pilate), and conductor Jeannette Sorrell.

“A resplendent performance… The production belonged entirely to Ms. Sorrell, who devised the concept, which she called ‘a dramatic presentation’…. exquisite moments. The magnificent chorus [sang] to breathtaking effect… Nicholas Phan sang the Evangelist beautifully, with animation and dramatic vehemence. Jeffrey Strauss turned Pilate into a living, breathing figure.”
– New York Times [read more]

“Evokes deep spirituality while teeming with theatricality. Sorrell ensured that there was no lack of drama. A superlative performance.”
– Musical America

The Concept

Jeannette Sorrell’s vision for the production seeks to bring immediacy and clarity to Bach’s dramatic structure. Presented in “scenes,” the action (storytelling) portions take place on a specially lit platform in the center of the orchestra. All of the characters – Jesus, Pilate, Peter, etc. – perform their roles from memory, physically confronting each other on the platform. The “reflective” arias, in which Bach takes us outside of the story to contemplate what just transpired, are performed at the front of the stage, away from the drama platform. In the extended “mob” scene of the Trial Before Pilate and up through the climactic Condemnation of Jesus, half of the chorus is placed amongst the audience, shouting at Pilate from the aisles.

Watch the Performance

Scene 1. Arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane
Scene 2. Interrogation by the High Priest, Peter’s Denial
Scene 3. Trial Before Pilate
Scene 4. Condemnation of Jesus
Scene 5. The Crucifixion
Scene 6. Burial of Jesus

Watch the Interviews

Jeannette Sorrell
A “Greek Tragedy” that Echoes in Our Time

Nicholas Phan
on the Role of the Evangelist

Jeffrey Strauss
on portraying Pilate

Download Program Notes

“A Passion with Passion” – by Jeannette Sorrell

This filmed performance was made possible in part by generous support from


with additional support for the St. John Passion project from
Marilyn & Tom McLaughlin.


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Apollo’s Fire is providing this digital music and video series as a free gift to you. However, as the COVID-19 shutdown continues, we are losing over $320,000 in ticket sales and touring fees and this number could increase in the coming months. Please consider making a donation if you are able. You can also help AF by sharing these videos with your friends.

To donate, email Angela Mortellaro or call 216.320.0012 x 6.*
*AF staff are working remotely. Please leave a voicemail and your call will be returned.

Thank you for supporting your baroque orchestra!

“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)

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