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MIT Bach Society delivers dramatic St. John Passion


Directed by John Oliver.

Work by Bach.

Kenneth Goodson '89, Tom Jones,

Rockland Osgood, Jayne West,

Mary Westbrook-Geha, Mark Evans,

and Richard Morrison as soloists.

Kresge Auditorium, Sunday, April 23.


SUNDAY NIGHT MARKED THE DEBUT of MIT's new all-student chorus, the MIT Bach Society. For their first performance, director John Oliver chose Bach's St. John Passion, a massive and ambitious piece, to be sure. Oliver and the chorus must be congratulated on a remarkable achievement.

What else can one say about the piece of music itself? St. John Passion is one of the great masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach. Powerful choruses, exquisite-as-always instrumental counterpoint, and tortured drama -- everything is here, and all were brought out in the performance.

The chorus sang confidently and was always in tune. Also featured were a group of superb professional soloists, foremost of whom was Rockland Osgood as the Evangelist. Kenneth Goodson '89 was the only non-professional soloist, but held his own as Pilate. The orchestra accompaniment was also very good, especially the cellos and basses, whose backing of the soloists served well to intensify the drama.

Overall, the performance was inspired. From the opening cry of "Herr!" by the chorus to the dramatic recitativos of Osgood, the performance lived up to the title Passion. Bravo to John Oliver and the MIT Bach Society. Hopefully, the all-student chorus will continue in the future to perform more works of such grand scope.