Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Passion of Christ According to Matthew" Roundtable

Sunday, April 6, 3 p.m.
Buller Hall Student Lounge

Andrews University Department of Music invites the community to attend a special roundtable discussion event with the production team of the Easter performance of “Passion of Christ According to Matthew.” The roundtable will take place on Sunday, April 6, at 3 p.m., in the Buller Hall Student Lounge. It is free and open to the public.

Presented by the Andrews University Department of Music, “Passion of Christ According to Matthew” will take place Easter weekend, April 18 and 19, at 7 p.m. in the Howard Performing Arts Center. The “St. Matthew Passion” is traditionally performed as a concert work, set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and telling the story of the death of Christ straight from the Gospel of Matthew. The Department of Music uses this concert piece to present a fully staged modern drama.

The story is essentially verbatim from the Bible, and intermingled with the story are lots of meditation points—opportunities to dwell on the story in a personal way before moving on.

“The idea of ‘stations of the cross’ is common in many other denominations, where participants take time to really think about different parts of the story of Christ’s death and resurrection and what they mean,” says Charles Reid, associate professor of voice and producer of the performance. “This is what the Andrews University annual Passion Play has strived to create as well. You get not only into what happens to Jesus, but how everything relates to the other characters in the story. It’s truly eye-opening.”

David Ortiz, a sophomore music major, will play the role of evangelist/narrator. Deneile Clark, a student in the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary on the campus of Andrews University, plays the role of Jesus.

Something Reid and his cast and crew paid special attention to was allowing the audience to connect with the characters and, as a result, the story. Reid and student Aleks Kravig translated the piece from its original German into a more connectable, common American English, while still staying true to Bach’s intent with the language.

Not only is the dialogue more modern, the producers have also opted for a more contemporary, casual approach to costuming.

“Jesus didn’t get dressed up to be Jesus,” Reid points out. “He just wore clothes. Same for the disciples. Era-appropriate costuming adds another disconnect of that’s how it was ‘back then.’ We want this story to be as relatable as possible.”

A joint venture between the vocal/choral area of the department and the symphonic area, “Passion” is a major department production. Stephen Zork, associate professor of music for choir and voice, is conducting the performances, while Claudio Gonzalez, associate professor of music for orchestra and strings, is managing the instrumental aspect for the production, including ensuring the appropriate instruments for the performance.

“When you look at this story little by little you see Jesus was very emotional,” says Reid. “He actually got angry, afraid, frustrated, even angsty. Not things we usually associate with Jesus. So a piece like this, done how we’re doing it in a more contemporary setting, can have a strong impact on anyone, Christian or not.”

Reid, Zork and Gonzalez will be present at the roundtable, in addition to some soloists. Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the production, the characters, and the setting, as well as interacting personally with those involved in “Passion of Christ According to Matthew.”

For further information about this roundtable, call 269-605-3438. For details on the production of “Passion,” visit howard.andrews.edu or call 269-471-3560. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Contact Charles Reid for more information.

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