University of Pittsburgh
March 15, 2004

Pitt's Bach and the Baroque Presents American Premiere of Telemann's St. Matthew Passion of 1750


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

Contact: Sharon Blake



John Harvith


PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh's Bach and the Baroque Ensemble will present the first U.S. performance of Georg Philipp Telemann's St. Matthew Passion of 1750 at 3 p.m. March 28 in Pitt's Heinz Memorial Chapel, at the corner of Fifth and Bellefield avenues in Oakland. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for senior citizens and students. For additional information, call 412-624-4125.

Telemann wrote 12 settings of the passion narrative by St. Matthew. The

St. Matthew Passion of 1750 is one of only six Matthew Passions by Telemann known to have survived. The only other modern performance of this work took place at the 2002 Telemann Festival in Magdeburg, Germany, the composer's birthplace. That performance was sponsored by the Telemann Zentrum—a German national research center dedicated to promoting Telemann's works—which has made the music available to Pitt.

According to Pitt Professor of Music Don Franklin, Telemann's 1750 St. Matthew Passion differs markedly from J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion of 1736, which was performed at Pitt several years ago.

"Telemann was regarded as a more fashionable composer, more in touch with current musical taste than Bach," Franklin explains. "He also, in contrast to Bach, was an opera composer. Many of his arias are more operatic in style than Bach's, his choruses more dance-like, and his settings of the chorales less harmonically complex."

The Bach and the Baroque Ensemble performance will employ 12 musicians who will play period instruments—strings, oboes, flutes, and a baroque organ—as well as six vocal soloists and a chorus of 20, all under the direction of Franklin. The vocal soloists will be tenor Robert Petillo; Pitt Department of Music Lecturer and Heinz Chapel Choir Director John Goldsmith, countertenor; Sara Botkin and Elaine Goldsmith, sopranos; Krista River, mezzo-soprano; and Sumner Thompson, bass-baritone. The performance will be sung in the original German; the audience will be provided with a new English translation [the work's first] by Pitt Department of Music doctoral student Jason Grant, who is writing his dissertation on Telemann.

Bach and the Baroque was founded in 1992 to perform the works of Bach and his contemporaries on period instruments.