Mounting the most ambitious event in its seven-year history, the sixty-member Chicago Chorale, under the direction of artistic director Bruce Tammen along with soloists and orchestra, presents a special Palm Sunday Eve performance of Bach’s monumental “St. Matthew Passion,” one of the true landmarks of Western music and the piece that inaugurated the “Bach Revival” of the nineteenth century when a young Felix Mendelssohn came across a manuscript of the work in a friend’s library along with the legend that it had been used by a local cheese-maker to wrap cheese in. Mendelssohn presented the work in 1829, a full century after its first and only performance to that time and the enormous interest that the performance stirred, and subsequent articles by Schumann on Bach, initiated the tidal wave of interest in anything Bach that the music world is still riding. One by one, Bach’s works once again saw the light of day and the enormously complicated and time-consuming task of publishing them in complete form ensued, the “Bach Gesellschaft.” Still, what do we make of a masterpiece, however beautiful, that contains a mob of Jews crying “Let his blood be on us and our children!” in our modern and dangerous times? Longtime legendary University of Chicago religious historian Martin E. Marty will be on hand to help sort that out in a pre-concert talk an hour before the performance which will also benefit from being heard in a magnificent city church that survived the great Chicago fire. (Dennis Polkow)
Saturday, March 15 at Church of the Holy Family, 1080 W. Roosevelt, (773)306-6195. 7pm. $20.