Grace Church's Bach Cantata Vespers presents two performances of the St. John Passion, April 8 and 9

The Bach Cantata Vespers Chorus and Orchestra, along with Chicago Choral Artists, will present two performances of J. S. Bach's St. John Passion on Palm Sunday weekend, April 8 and 9. The Saturday evening performance begins at 7, the Sunday afternoon performance begins at 4.

Admission is free. Seating is first come, first served. There is no need to call ahead and reserve tickets. There will be a free will offering, with a suggested donation of $25. Childcare will be available in the church nursery.

There will be pre-concert lectures one hour before each performance, in the sanctuary. Mark Peters of Trinity Christian College is the speaker on Saturday evening. WFMT morning host Carl Grapentine will present the Sunday afternoon lecture.

In his "Johannes Passion" J. S. Bach dramatizes the text of John 18 and 19 so that listeners experience the power of the events of Christ’s passion, from Judas’ betrayal in the garden through the trial before Pilate to Jesus’ death and burial. Bach’s setting is highly dramatic. A tenor soloist, the Evangelist, sings the narration as other soloists portray Jesus and Pilate. The chorus is the angry crowd that shouts “Crucify him!” but it also sings the tender, familiar chorales that reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ suffering in our lives. Beautiful arias with a variety of orchestral sonorities provide additional cues for prayer and meditation.

Bach composed the work for the Good Friday worship service at the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany, on April 7, 1724, and revised it several times for additional performances throughout his life. It’s in two parts, and in Bach’s day there was a sermon between the two. In the performances at Grace there will be a brief devotional between the parts; the entire performance will take approximately two hours and fifteen minutes.