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MEDIA ALERT: The all-star singers and instrumentalists of the BEMF Vocal & Chamber Ensembles offer a rare performance of Johann Sebastiani’s St. Matthew Passion on Good Friday, April 18 in Boston

ARTIST: Boston Early Music Festival Vocal & Chamber Ensembles
Paul O’Dette & Stephen Stubbs, Musical Directors
Robert Mealy, concertmaster

James Taylor, Evangelist
João Fernandes, Jesus
Danielle Reutter-Harrah, mezzo-soprano
Ian Howell, countertenor
Jason McStoots, tenor
John Taylor Ward, bass
WHEN: Friday, April 18, 2014 at 8pm
New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall
30 Gainsborough Street, Boston
PROGRAM:  Johann Sebastiani’s sublime St. Matthew Passion (1672)

Johann Sebastiani: Matthäus Passion
Johann Rosenmüller: Sonata Seconda in E Minor for 2 violins and continuo
David Funck: Intrada et Lamento, for viols
Johann Christoph Bach: Ach dass ich Wassers g'nug hätte

TICKETS: Tickets are priced at $19, $38, $49, $66, and $100 each and can be purchased at WWW.BEMF.ORG and 617-661-1812 as well as through the Jordan Hall Box Office located at 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston and by telephone at 617-585-1260; a $5 discount for students, seniors, and groups is offered by calling 617-661-1812.

We close our spectacular 24th season on Good Friday, April 18, 2014 as the all-star singers and instrumentalists of the BEMF Vocal & Chamber Ensembles offer a rare performance of Johann Sebastiani’s St. Matthew Passion led by Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs in historic Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory. The concert will feature one of the pre-eminent Bach Evangelists of our time, James Taylor, whose singing was hailed by The New York Sun as “almost impossibly fresh, lovely - and accurate.” The program will also feature three short instrumental works by Johann Rosenmüller, David Funck, and Johann Christoph Bach, great uncle of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Born in Weimar, Germany in 1622, Joahnn Sebastiani spent most of his career in Königsberg where he served as Cantor at the Cathedral and Kapellmeister of the Court before his death in 1683. Though much of his work has been lost, his St. Matthew Passion is of unique importance as it comes at the crossroads of the Renaissance and the Baroque. The masterpiece draws inspiration from the austere late works of Heinrich Schütz while also forecasting exciting new expressive elements in instrumentation and theatricality that continue to be developed by J.S. Bach.

“Sebastiani’s St. Matthew Passion is on the most sublime and deeply moving passion settings of the late 17th century,” remarks co-Musical Director Paul O’Dette. “It is lushly scored for five voices, six strings, and a continuo group Sebastiani describes as ‘very colorful and strong’ including organ, harpsichord and multiple plucked instruments. The warmly lyrical vocal writing is accentuated by accompanying the Evangelist with a consort of viols, and Jesus with the violins. Sebastiani was the first to include chorales to intensify the drama, a practice later borrowed by Bach.”

Paul O’Dette has been described as “the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument” (Toronto Globe and Mail). He has given solo concerts at dozens of major international festivals across the world while maintaining an active international career as an ensemble musician. Mr. O’Dette has made more than 130 recordings, many of which have been nominated for Gramophone’s “Record of the Year” Award; The Bachelar’s Delight: Lute Music of Daniel Bacheler was nominated for a Grammy as “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra)” in 2006. Mr. O’Dette is also active conducting Baroque operas. In 1997, he directed performances of Luigi Rossi’s L’Orfeo with Stephen Stubbs at Tanglewood, the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF), and the Drottningholm Court Theatre in Sweden. They have since co-directed all BEMF operatic performances and have made six opera recordings with BEMF on the CPO label with three receiving Grammy nominations in the “Best Opera Recording” category. He is an avid researcher, having worked extensively on the performance and sources of 17th-century Italian and English solo song, continuo practices, and lute music. He has published numerous articles on issues of historical performance practice, and co-authored the John Dowland entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Paul O’Dette is Professor of Lute and Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music and Artistic Co-Director of the Boston Early Music Festival.

After a thirty-year career in Europe, Stephen Stubbs is one of the world’s most respected lutenists, conductors, and music educators. In 1987 he founded the ensemble Tragicomedia, which toured throughout Europe, Japan, and the U.S., as well as recording numerous CDs. Tragicomedia has been the continuo team for the Boston Early Music Festival since 1997. Stephen is the Festival’s permanent artistic co-director along with his long-time colleague Paul O’Dette. Stephen and Paul are also the musical directors of all BEMF operas. BEMF’s recordings of Conradi’s Ariadne, Lully’s Thésée, and Lully’s Psyché were nominated for Grammy awards in 2005, 2007, and 2008 respectively. In 2007 Stephen established his new production company based in Seattle, Pacific MusicWorks (PMW), reflecting his lifelong interest in both early music and contemporary performance. In addition to his ongoing commitments to PMW and BEMF, other recent appearances have included Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Gluck’s Orfeo in Bilbao, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Così fan tutte for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. He made his début with the Edmonton Symphony performing Handel’s Messiah in 2012, and conducted Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Denver. His extensive discography as conductor and solo lutenist includes well over 100 CDs, many of which have received international acclaim and awards. In 2013, Stephen was appointed Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music.

Tenor James Taylor devotes much of his career to the oratorio and concert literature, and is one of the world’s most sought-after Bach Evangelists.His career has taken him throughout the United States, South America, Japan, Israel, and to virtually all the major concert halls of Europe including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein, and the Royal Albert Hall in London. In recent seasons,Mr. Taylor made his New York Philharmonic debut in the Bach'sSaint Matthew Passion led by Kurt Masur, bringing a “sweet, light yet penetrating voice to the role of the Evangelist” (The New York Times). In addition to returning there for Handel’s Messiah, other recent appearances include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Houston Symphony,and the Colorado Symphony. Mr. Taylor can be heard on over 30 recordings.

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Recognized as the preeminent early music presenter and Baroque opera producer in North America, the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) has been credited with securing Boston’s reputation as “America’s early music capital” (The Boston Globe). Founded in 1981, BEMF offers diverse programs and activities, including three Grammy-nominated opera recordings, an annual concert series that brings early music’s brightest stars to the Boston and New York concert stages, and a biennial week-long Festival and Exhibition recognized as the “world’s leading festival of early music” (The Times, London). The 18th Boston Early Music Festival will take place from June 7–14, 2015, and will be highlighted by Claudio Monteverdi’s trilogy of operas: Orfeo, Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, and L'Incoronazione di Poppea. BEMF’s Artistic Leadership includes Artistic Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Opera Director Gilbert Blin, and Orchestra Director Robert Mealy.

The 2013–2014 Boston Early Music Festival Concert Series is presented with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, ConstellationCenter, WGBH Radio Boston, Harpsichord Clearing House, Zuckermann Harpsichords International, The Gregory E. Bulger Foundation, and U.S. Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management.

For more information, images, press tickets, or to schedule an interview, please contact Kathleen Fay at 617-661-1812 or email