Lutherans in Minnesota

National Lutheran Choir to perform “The Saint Matthew Passion”

The St. Matthew Passion,’ based on the story of the arrest and crucifixion of
Jesus Christ, is universally regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces ever
composed,” said David Cherwien, artistic director of The National Lutheran
Choir. “Yet the work was all but lost for 79 years after Bach’s death, until
Felix Mendelssohn, at age 23, discovered the work after eight decades of
neglect and organized a performance in 1829.

“Performances of ‘The St. Matthew Passion’ are still relatively infrequent,
perhaps due to the scale required – two complete choruses and orchestras, a
separate treble chorus in addition to numerous soloists – and the intense
musical demands of the work,” Cherwien added.

The National Lutheran Choir, conducted by Cherwien, will be joined by the
Minnesota Boychoir, soloists, and orchestra in presenting J.S. Bach’s “The
Passion of Our Lord According to St. Matthew” on Saturday, March 21, in

Beyond the musical experience of “The St. Matthew Passion,” the masterwork
touches on powerful human issues – love, hate, betrayal – in ways that carry
genuine meaning for today’s listeners.

Dame Janet Baker, famous for her singing of “The St. Matthew Passion” and
other Bach works, noted in her diary, “I hope there may never come a day
when I sit through this Passion music untouched by the experience. The
Passion is the truest single reflection of music as a whole, because it gathers
up every factor, composer, music, performer, audience, and, while leaving us
complete individuals, binds us together as one. If this is not an expression of
Holiness, I don’t know what is.”

In addition to the National Lutheran Choir and the Minnesota Boychoir, the
March 21 performance will feature soprano Susan Palo Cherwien, mezzo-
soprano Susan Sacquitne Druck, tenor Oliver Mercer, and bass Aaron Larson –
all well-known and highly regarded for their frequent performances for Twin
Cities’ audiences and beyond.

Tenor Christopher Cock of Valparaiso University will sing the role of
Evangelist. He has received critical acclaim in performances of the role with
the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Bach Choir of Berlin at Carnegie Hall, New
York, and at the Oregon Bach Festival.

Two orchestras, comprised of strings, woodwinds, organ, and harpsichord,
will be led by concertmaster and baroque music specialist Leah Gale Nelson
of New York.

The National Lutheran Choir, one of the premier ensembles on the busy Twin
Cities choral scene, was recently honored with The Margaret Hillis Award for
Choral Excellence by Chorus America. The Minnesota Boychoir is the state’s
premier boy choir, now in its 46th season.

At the March 21 event, the National Lutheran Choir will confer its Soli Deo
Gloria award on Minnesota organist and composer Dr. Paul Manz in
recognition of his transforming contributions to Lutheran worship and church

The performance of “The Saint Matthew Passion” begins at 7 p.m. at St. Olaf
Catholic Church, 215 South 8th Street. Ticket information and purchase are
available online at, or by phone at 612/722-2301 or 888/