St. Matthew Passion
An Easter tradition since 1921
J. S. Bach
Niall Chorell, tenor (evangelist)
Kristian Lindroos, bass (Jesus)
Kajsa Dahlbäck, soprano
Teppo Lampela, alto
Simo Mäkinen, tenor
Petri Lindroos, bass
CandoMini, young singers from the Helsinki Conservatory of Music and Kannelkellot
Suomen Laulu Choir
Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Juhani Lamminmäki, conductor
Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion has been an inseparable part of Suomen Laulu’s and its audience’s Easter for almost 100 years. On Maundy Thursday 2018, the choir will perform it for the 107th time. It will be the 91st time in St. John’s Church in Helsinki, where this masterpiece by Bach was sung for the first time in 1921. In 1907, male choir Suomen Laulu, founded in 1900, decided to become a mixed choir. Behind the change lay conductor Heikki Klemetti’s desire to practice oratorios, masses, passions and other grand works for choir, instead of just Finnish romantic nationalist repertoire.
Suomen Laulu performed its first St. Matthew Passions in St. John’s Church on March 21st and March 23rd 1921 and in St. Nicholas' Church on March 25th 1921. Soloists were Väinö Sola, Oiva Soini, Alma Kuula, Toini Rahola, Einar Keinänen, Alfred Hihlman, Väinö Forsman, Onni Maunula, Elis Mårtenson, Ernst Linko and Lyyli Wendelin. Since 1945, Suomen Laulu has performed the St. Matthew Passion on almost every Maundy Thursday. In 1971, on Ensti Pohjola’s initiative, the passion was performed uncut and in the original language for the very first time. “The most important translation in the Finnish version of St. Matthew’s Passion is Bach’s own translation. He has translated and interpreted the German Bible to the language of music, and he has even added explanations in the form of arias, recitatives and chorales”, Pohjola wrote in 1990.
Each year there are both first-timers and singers with experience of tens of performances in the choir. Suomen Laulu’s St. Matthew Passion has become a tradition for many others, too, from conductors to soloists to orchestra musicians. There is already a second generation of soloists, as bass Petri Lindroos’s son Kristian Lindroos will interpret the role of Jesus for the first time.