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The Passion According to St. John at Saint Peter’s Church

Friday March 29, 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm


A cornerstone of our classical music program, and one of the most important days in the liturgical calendar, Saint Peter’s presents continues their musical tradition with J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion, BWV 245.

St. John Passion, BWV 245, is among the greatest settings of the Passion in the history of music, which underwent several fundamental changes during Bach’s lifetime and does not have a “final” version, approved by the composer as is the case with the St. Matthew Passion. Presented by Saint Peter’s Bach Collegium Orchestra and Soloists and the Saint Peter’s Choir, this special musical event is in person only, with recordings available online at a later date.

About St. John’s Passion

The Passion narrative from the Lutheran Bible and the chorale verses are interspersed with aria texts of varied origins. An unknown editor compiled these in 1724 from several sources of poetry. A few of the aria texts, such as “Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten” were probably written by this editor who was particularly inspired by the basic ideas of the fourth Gospel. All-in-all, the varied pasticcio character of the libretto distinguishes the St. John Passion from its companion work the St. Matthew Passion with its text by a single author Picander whom Bach named on the title page of his fair copy.

Saint Peter’s performance will be to the “traditional” 1739/1749 with the additional bass aria “Himmel reiße, Welt erbebe,” that was also borrowed for Karosi’s reconstruction of the St. Mark’s Passion, the previous year’s performance. The performance will be on period instruments in German, with opportunity for participation with the Chorales, in English, by the congregation.

About Bálint Karosi

Bálint Karosi serves as Cantor at Saint Peter’s.

Commended as “a most impressive musical interpreter,” (Dr. Christoph Wolff, the Boston Musical Intelligencer) and for his virtuosity “[He] inspired awe with the work’s marvelous scalar passages and fiery finish…” (The Diapason), Bálint Karosi earned a reputation for his expressive command of a wide range of repertoire that is guided by historical performance practice and a remarkably multi-faceted musicianship enriched by his experiences as a composer, conductor, church musician, and clarinetist.

Since winning the International Bach Competition in Leipzig in 2008, Dr. Karosi has been recognized as one of the leading interpreters of the music of J. S. Bach worldwide. He is one of few organists in North America to improvise regularly in recitals in authentic Baroque Style, which is informed by his research in Baroque improvisation techniques of the 17th and 18th centuries. He has five recorded albums that have been received with critical acclaim ” [Balint Karosi] plays with self-understood naturalness, without trying to emphasize a sacred pathos.” (Gramafon, Hungary, 2015).

Dr. Karosi has had an active career as a solo organ recitalist. In the summer of 2020, his upcoming engagements include concerts in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Romania and Hungary. He has given solo organ concerts in concert halls in Budapest, Leipzig, Osaka, Yokohama in Geneva, and on some of the most significant historic organs in Lübeck, Leipzig, Norden, Leer, Paris, Freiberg, Merseburg, Naumburg, among others.

His six volumes of organ music, published by Wayne Leupold Editions, include his Organ Book No. 1 (2017), conceived for historic organs, and works in a more symphonic idiom, often drawing inspiration from Hungarian music as in his Symphony on a Chorale by Béla Bartók (2012). His Toccata in memory of Béla Bartók (2007) is the compulsory piece for the finals of the 2020 National Young Artist Competition in Organ Playing at the AGO National Convention in Atlanta.

As an active composer, he has received commissions from the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Hungarian State Opera House, and Spectrum Symphony of New York. His one act opera, “Lonely Hearts,” won the “Most Dramatic Opera” award and audience vote at the 2020 Contemporary Opera Showcase at the Hungarian State Opera. Existentia, his critically acclaimed album featuring original compositions for orchestra was released in 2019 on the Hungaroton label. Of his Triple Concerto for Guitar, Cimbalom and Harp, Records International wrote in 2019: “the soloists, joined by others within the ensemble, emerge to play beautiful, exotically tinged melodies, like tellers of ancient tales.”

Dr. Karosi is the recipient a number of first prizes in organ competitions, including the J. S. Bach competition in Leipzig, the International Organ Competition in Miami, and the Dublin International Organ competition that he won at age 22. He holds degrees from Yale University, the Oberlin Conservatory, the Liszt Academy and the Conservatoire de Genève.

He is represented in North America and Canada by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, Inc.


Friday March 29
12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Saint Peter’s Church
619 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022 United States