Full-scale performances of baroque choral works are rare in the South Sound, and we have Pacific Lutheran University to thank for many of them. This weekend, PLU’s Choral Union will be teaming up with Choir of the West to bring us another – J.S. Bach’s gorgeous Mass in B minor, rarely played around here.
Conducted by Richard Nance and accompanied by a professional orchestra, the B minor Mass will be sung on Saturday and Sunday in honor of the master’s 326th birthday (March 21, 1685). It’s a major work, with 27 “movements” alternating choruses with solos and duets for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, in three big sections. Composed over three years and finished the year before Bach died, when he had already gone blind, the Mass is widely regarded as one of the major compositions of the classical music world, combining flawless harmonic technique, vocal and instrumental scoring and emotion. It was probably never performed in entirety during Bach’s lifetime.
And for Bach fans, this weekend offers another big choral moment – Seattle’s first period performance of the St. John Passion, courtesy of Portland Baroque Orchestra, Les Voix Baroque and Cappella Romana, led by PBO director and violinist Monica Huggett. The Passion, which tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection through chorus, soloists and orchestra, features the beautiful soprano/flute duet “Ich folge dir gleichfalls” and the virtuosic viola da gamba solo in “Es ist vollbracht.”
The PLU performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor will be at 8 p.m. Mar. 19, 2 p.m. Mar. 20. $15/$10/$5 alumni/free for 18 and under. Lagerquist Hall, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave. S., Tacoma. 253-535-7787, www.plu.edu/music
The PBO performance of Bach’s St. John Passion will be at 3 p.m. Mar. 20. $40/$35/$25/$15. Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave., Seattle. 206-325-7066, www.earlymusicguild.org