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Bach’s St John Passion

Soloists Christopher Watson, Jerzy Kozlowski, Benjamin Fullarton, Christopher Roache, Timothy Reynolds & Michael Strasser, with Ensemble Gombert and Accademia Arcadia, directed by John O’Donnell

In celebration of the three-hundredth anniversary of its creation, Accademia Arcadia, Ensemble Gombert, and a cast of outstanding soloists come together to present Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental Johannes-Passion (St John Passion). These two performances will be distinguished by soloists whose voice types were those used by Bach (especially boy soprano and male alto), by a period orchestra (whose individual colours immediately transport us to the sound world of the Baroque), and by the director’s internationally-acknowledged expertise in the interpretation of Bach. The St John Passion is universally regarded as one of the greatest musical works of all time: Robert Schumann considered it superior to the better-known St Matthew Passion. Not to be missed!

Ensemble Members

John O’Donnell, Director

Christopher Watson, Evangelista
Jerzy Kozlowski, Jesus
Benjamin Fullarton, soprano
Christopher Roache, alto         
Timothy Reynolds, tenor      
Michael Strasser, bass

Ensemble Gombert | Accademia Arcadia

Jerzy Kozlowski has performed in over 60 operas as both principal and chorus member. He is also regularly involved with chamber vocal ensembles such as The Consort of Melbourne, the Melbourne Octet and the medieval group, Acord. He has performed in many premieres of works by Australian composers such as Richard Mills, Johanna Selleck, Iain Grandage and Helen Gifford, including two song cycles written especially for him by Michael Bertram and Lawrence Whiffin.

Michael Strasser is a versatile solo and ensemble singer based in Brisbane, where he is a regular member of ChoirWorks, Fusion Vocal Ensemble and the Opera Queensland Chorus. He was based in Melbourne for five years, where he sang with Ensemble Gombert, Polyphonic Voices, St Paul’s Cathedral, Christ Church South Yarra and St John’s Southgate. He was a member of the Brisbane- based vocal Sextet Jones & Co between 1989 and 1994, and first appeared at the Woodend Winter Arts Festival in 2014, where he sang the role of Caronte in Euridice by Jacopo Peri.

Michael has performed as soloist in many works, including: Bach Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, St John Passion and numerous cantatas, Handel Messiah, Israel in Egypt, Dettingen Te Deum, Dixit Dominus, Judas Maccabeus and Samson, Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, Duruflé Requiem, Haydn Nelson Mass and Creation, Charpentier Te Deum, Mendelssohn Elijah, Fauré Requiem, Rutter Mass of the Children, Mozart Requiem and Coronation Mass, Dvořák The Spectre’s Bride, Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs and Mass in g minor, Beethoven Choral Fantasia and Arvo Pärt Passio.

Christopher Watson has been based in Melbourne since January 2017, and has enjoyed a varied career as a soloist, consort singer and conductor. He was a regular member of the Tallis Scholars for over 10 years and made 550 appearances with them in churches, concert halls and art galleries all over the world. In 2007 he made his debut at Carnegie Hall with Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices, giving the world première of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Little Match Girl Passion, their recording of which won a Grammy Award in 2009. He returned to Carnegie Hall with Theatre of Voices in February 2015 to perform Stockhausen’s Stimmung. Christopher also sang regularly with Polyphony, Tenebrae, Gallicantus, Alamire, the Gabrieli Consort and Collegium Vocale Gent and you can hear him on over 100 recordings of repertoire by, among others, Dufay, Josquin, Tallis, Byrd, Lassus, Howells, Palestrina, Bach, Berio and Pärt.

Christopher also has an active solo career, particularly in the Passions of JS Bach, which he has performed in many of the cathedrals of the UK, including Canterbury and Christ Church Oxford, the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City and in the Philharmonie in Berlin. He made his solo debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2023 and this year will perform the St Matthew Passion Evangelist with Melbourne Baroque and Messiah with Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.

Since 2017 he has been Director of Music at Trinity College, Melbourne. At Trinity he enjoys working with one of the finest student choirs in Australia, and alongside the choir’s regular services of Evensong has made four recordings, organised three international tours, as well as a series of concerts in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

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