Bach’s St John Passion with world class soloists live from Swedish Radio Concert Hall

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The St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach will be performed in a unique way in Berwaldhallen, the concert hall of Swedish Radio on Good Friday, April 2. The performance will be available through Swedish Radio P2 and also for viewing on Berwaldhallen Play. A star cast of Swedish and international singers will participate: Julia Kleiter, Ann Hallenberg, Andrew Staples, Christian Gerhaher and Matthew Rose. Together with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Choir, led by Music Director Daniel Harding, it will be a world class musical experience, one of a kind in these days.

Johann Sebastian Bach, Ann Hallenberg, Daniel Harding och Christian Gerhaher participate in the St John Passion cast in Berwaldhallen. Photo: Arne Hyckenberg, Alexander Basta

- The week leading up to Easter Sunday is traditionally the week to perform one of Bach’s settings of the Passion. But this year, with so much happening in the world which is unsettling, and when there will be so few performances of these pieces around the world, it somehow feels even more important to present Bach’s St John Passion in Berwaldhallen, says Staffan Becker, General Manager for the Swedish Radio Concert Hall, Berwaldhallen.

Daniel Harding, Artistic Director for the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Staples, tenor soloist and Visual Director for the St John Passion describes the project:

"In normal times, there would be countless Good Friday performances of Bach’s St John Passion taking place in concert halls and churches across the world. These are of course not normal times.  The challenge to present this iconic and radical work for screen right now is one that we are delighted to be undertaking.

From the opening bars, Bach beckons the listener into the vivid drama and persuades them to participate in the charged storytelling and to share the world of its characters.  We feel what they feel and suffer with them as the inevitable ritual plays out.  The work is both at the same time, dramatic and reflective, provocative yet soothing. There is no set, no movement but rather the drama unfolds through the playing and the singing. 

The camera allows for a degree of connection and intimacy with the performers and the music that we hope will go a long way to bridging the physical distance between us and our audience.  Our intention is to try to do as Bach does, and to bring the audience close to the drama, the characters and the music so that we may all participate in this exquisite piece and feel moved by and involved in it."

When Bach composed the St John Passion, he was recently appointed cantor in Leipzig. The work was first performed in 1724, three years before the St Matthew Passion. It was then performed a number of times, before it was put on the shelf when Bach died in 1750. It didn’t really come back to life until the 19th century. In Sweden, the St John Passion was first performed in 1898, conducted by Wilhelm Stenhammar. This year’s performance of the St John Passion will be broadcast in Sveriges Radio P2 and livestreamed on Berwaldhallen Play. It will also be livestreamed on the international music site

As an introduction (in Swedish) to the St John Passion, you can find the program Nyfiken på: Johannespassionen on Berwaldhallen Play, where archbishop Antje Jackelén, radio host Johan Korssell from the Swedish Radio P2, and musicologist Bodil Asketorp discuss the work. Moderator is Hedvig Ljungar, editor at Berwaldhallen. A shorter version of this talk will be broadcast before the concert on P2, Friday 2 April at 19.03.

Bach’s brilliant rendering of the passion of Christ according to The Gospel of John.

Live broadcast through Sveriges Radio P2 and livestream on

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Swedish Radio Choir
Daniel Harding conductor
Julia Kleiter soprano
Ann Hallenberg alto
Andrew Staples tenor/Evangelist, Visual Director
Christian Gerhaher barytone
Matthew Rose barytone/Jesus

For more information, please contact

Karl Thorson
Press- & PR-ansvarig / Press & PR Manager
Berwaldhallen | Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester | Radiokören
08-784 18 30 | 070-431 18 93

Sveriges Radios konserthus Berwaldhallen
SE-105 10 Stockholm, Sweden
Besök/Visiting address Dag Hammarskjöldsväg 3