World first in Pijnacker: the Jotheus Passion

Apr 1, 20:39

Topical
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It has probably never been shown anywhere in the world: a mix of the St Matthew Passion and the St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach, the world famous composer who was recently born 336 years ago on the first day of spring, 21 March. As a musician, Bach is more alive than any composer of earlier centuries.

The Pijnacker arranger/conductor Harry Over, who has been living with his wife Marian in Groenlo for a year or so, returns to Nootdorp and Pijnacker every non-corona year to perform ‘something’ by Bach or Handel with the Concertkoor Zuid-Holland and L. Orchester de Beaubourg. At Christmas time this is usually the Messiah or the Christmas Oratorio and during the Easter season the Johannes Passion by Bach several times in the Joannes de Dooperkerk in Pijnacker.

Harry had been toying with the idea of ​​making a mix of John and Matthew for a few years now. Without corona, he would have made concrete work of it in 2020 and with some delay it will now happen on Saturday evening 9 April in the Joannes de Dooper on the Oostlaan in Pijnacker. From 19:30. Tickets are for sale via concertkoorzuidholland.nl and while supplies last, also at the venue. They cost 25 euros each. For children up to the age of fifteen, the entrance fee is 10 euros. It will be very special. Harry Over has been working on it almost permanently since November last year. Selecting the parts of both compositions in such a way that a well-functioning whole is created.

John and Matthew are both by Bach but quite different. The John is more of an Easter opera in which Jesus appears as the king who is being cut down. In Matthew he is much more the victim to be lamented, the pathetic man whom they completely unjustly take seriously. In Harry’s words: “Matthew is more of a cry, cry, and in John, it is more of thick wood. In the John, Jesus is immediately captured and the game is even on the roads. In the Mattheus only after a long run-up.” As a man with a passion for both passions, Harry thought it was a great challenge to make a nice mix of the one and the other. That was a big job. Together, the two passions take more than five hours, the John about 2.5 two hours and the Matthew over three hours. The Jotheus comes out at about two hours, excluding an intermission. So that should be doable on Saturday 9 April.

When compiling the Jotheus – just establishing this name took a lot of consideration – Harry always coordinated with theologian Jeanette den Dekker. The music predominated, but it still had to be theologically correct. “You want balance and you can’t afford to have Jesus arrested twice. I also wanted to make sure that all six soloists – we really have top performers in the house again – are well endowed with a few arias. Certain highlights from Matthew, such as Erbarme dich, had to be included and on the other hand I also wanted the fierce Johannes choirs in it. There are a total of fourteen corals in it.”

Harry shows the book at home in Groenlo on which he has written Jotheus in very small letters. All music to play and sing is included with cutting, pasting and also editing. He first wants to perform and hear the total himself, before he goes on the farm outside Groenlo and Pijnacker-Nootdorp.

Sunday rehearsals are running smoothly and preparations are on schedule. Nothing stands in the way of a brilliant performance. Finally, we ask Harry, what would Bach say from heaven? “I think he would have found it funny and hopefully beautiful. He did nothing but steal from himself. It was quite normal in those days to ‘borrow’ music to create something ‘new’ again.”

From John and Matthew to Jotheus
Bach wrote the St John Passion before the Matthew. The Johannes was probably thought to be too rough and Bach then made the more sweet-voiced Matthew. Even then it was already true: people ask and we play! After the Matthew the John came up again and only much later did the Matthew become the great famous passion. Harry Over thinks they’re both beautiful and maybe the new Jotheus turns out to be the ideal mix!

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