Juilliard Historical Performance Presents J.S. Bach's "St. John Passion" on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 7:30 PM in Alice Tully Hall


Masaaki Suzuki Conducts Juilliard415, Yale Baroque Ensemble, and Yale's Schola Cantorum

Start Date

Monday, March 24, 2014

Press Release Images

Masaaki Suzuki (Photo by Marco Borggreve)
Masaaki Suzuki (Photo by Marco Borggreve)
Yale Schola Cantorum
Yale Schola Cantorum
Juilliard415 and Director and Violinist Robert Mealy (Photo by Nan Melville)
Juilliard415 and Director and Violinist Robert Mealy (Photo by Nan Melville)


A centerpiece of Juilliard415’s programming this season offers the rare opportunity to hear both St. John and St. Matthew Passions. Juilliard415 performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with conductor Gary Thor Wedow and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street on Monday, March 17, 2014 in Alice Tully Hall. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (The New York Times)

Presented in collaboration with the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, distinguished conductor Masaaki Suzuki leads Juilliard415, Yale Baroque Ensemble, and Yale Schola Cantorum, in J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 7:30 PM in Alice Tully Hall. A second performance takes place on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8 PM in Woolsey Hall at Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Mr. Suzuki makes his Alice Tully Hall debut with the April 4th concert.

Featured in the St. John Passion will be singers from Yale: tenor Kyle Stegall (tenor) as Evangelist; Edmund Milly (baritone) as Jesus; Molly Netter (soprano); Sara Couden (mezzo-soprano); Gene Stenger (tenor); and Andrew Padgett (baritone).

Tickets for the Alice Tully Hall concerts are $20 and are available online at www.juilliard.edu/passions, via CenterCharge (212) 721-6500, or at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office. Senior and student tickets at $10 are available only at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office. Admission is free for the April 5 Woolsey Hall, New Haven concert. For more information, go to http://music tickets.yale.edu/single/EventDetail.aspx?p=10896.

In his notes on both the St. John and St. Matthew Passions, Robert Mealy, director of Juilliard Historical Performance, writes: “In 1724, Bach composed his first extended Passion using the story of the Crucifixion from the Gospel of John, cobbling together a text out of various sources. Soon thereafter, he began work on a much bigger setting of the Passion narrative from the Gospel of Matthew, in collaboration with the distinguished Leipzig poet C.F. Henrici, known as Picander. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion received its first performance on Good Friday of 1727, as part of the usual afternoon Vespers service; its two parts would have framed a lengthy sermon, with congregational hymns before and after the Passion setting. Bach did not intend this to be a concert oratorio, but rather a devotional exercise, using all available musical means to make the central story of Christianity as vivid and immediate as possible to his listeners.”


Meet the Artists

Since founding the Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, early music conductor Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on the works of J.S. Bach. He has remained the group’s music director ever since, taking it regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the United States, and building up an outstanding reputation for the expressive refinement and truth of his performances. In addition to conducting, Mr. Suzuki is also renowned as an organist and harpsichordist. He regularly is invited to work with European soloists and groups, such as Collegium Vocale Gent and the Freiburger Barockorchester, and he recently appeared in London with the Britten Sinfonia in a program of Britten, Mozart, and Stravinsky. Forthcoming engagements with other ensembles include the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Nagoya Philharmonic, and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic orchestras.  In 2001, Mr. Suzuki was decorated with the Federal Order of Merit from Germany. His impressive discography on the BIS label includes his interpretations with Bach Collegium Japan of Bach’s major choral works and sacred cantatas, with 40 volumes now completed. In 2010, he and Bach Collegium Japan were awarded both a German Record Critics’ Award and a Diapason d’Or de l’Année for their recording of Bach motets, which was also honored with a BBC Music Magazine Award in 2011.

Since its founding in 2009, Juilliard415, the School’s period-instrument ensemble, has received critical praise for its performances of works of the 17th and 18th centuries. The ensemble takes its name from the (A=415) pitch commonly accepted for Baroque music. Distinguished resident and guest musicians William Christie, Ton Koopman, Harry Bicket, Nicholas McGegan,
Christopher Hogwood, Julian Wachner, Robert Mealy, and Monica Huggett have conducted or led Juilliard415 performances, including two fully-staged operas, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Handel’s Radamisto. The ensemble has participated with musicians from Les Arts Florissants and the Jardin des voix in Dans les jardin de William Christie, his summer festival in Thiré, France. Last season’s concerts included Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno with William Christie that was named one of the 10 best of the season by The New York Times. The 2013-14 season brings return visits from William Christie for Charpentier’s Actéon; Jordi Savall for a program of suites by Henry Purcell, Robert Johnson, and Matthew Locke; Nicholas McGegan conducted music from the courts of Dresden and Berlin; Monica Huggett led Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1; and Richard Egarr made his Juilliard debut conducting Handel and Purcell. In New York City, Juilliard415 will perform both the St. Matthew and St. John Passions by Bach.

The Yale Baroque Ensemble is a postgraduate ensemble at the Yale School of Music dedicated to the highest level of study and performance of the Baroque repertoire. It is directed by Baroque violinist Robert Mealy. Using the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments’ set of new Baroque instruments, members of the Ensemble go through an intensive one-year program of study, immersing themselves in the chamber and solo repertoire from 1600 to 1785 to create idiomatic and virtuosic performances of this music. The Yale Baroque Ensemble plays on the Collection’s set of new Baroque string instruments made by Jason Viseltear of New York City, after del Gesù, Amati, and Testore. Bows are also from the Collection, made by David Hawthorne and Christopher English after seventeenth- and eighteenth-century originals.

Yale Schola Cantorum, founded in 2003 by Simon Carrington, is a chamber choir that sings in concerts and choral services. Supported by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music with the School of Music, and open by audition to all Yale students, it specializes in music from before 1750 and the last 100 years. Schola Cantorum was under the direction of conductor Masaaki Suzuki from 2009 until 2013. Beginning in 2013-2014 Schola’s principal conductor is David Hill, while Suzuki remains affiliated as principal guest conductor. In addition to performing regularly in New Haven and New York, the choir records and tours nationally and internationally. Schola Cantorum’s live recording with Robert Mealy and Yale Collegium Musicum of Heinrich Biber’s 1693 Vesperae longiores ac breviores received international acclaim from the early music press, as have subsequent CDs of J.S. Bach’s rarely heard 1725 version of the St. John Passion and Antonio Bertali’s Missa resurrectionis. A commercial recording on the Naxos label of Mendelssohn and Bach Magnificats was released in fall 2009. Schola Cantorum has toured internationally in England, Hungary, France, China, South Korea, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, and to Japan and Singapore in 2013. In recent years, the choir has sung under the direction of the internationally renowned conductors Helmuth Rilling, Krzysztof Penderecki, Sir Neville Marriner, Stephen Layton, Paul Hillier, Nicholas McGegan, Dale Warland, James O’Donnell, Simon Halsey, David Hill, and Stefan Parkman. Highlights of Schola’s 2013-14 season include performances of Bach cantatas in New Haven and Boston; St. John Passion with Juilliard415 in New Haven and New York; Haydn Harmoniemesse in New Haven and New York; and a tour to Italy in June of 2014. Guest conductors in 2013-2014 include Masaaki Suzuki and Simon Carrington.


The Yale Soloists

Hailed for her “attractive voice...and command of the stage with a full range of Baroque stage conventions” (Early Music America), soprano Molly Netter enlivens complex and beautiful music, both old and new. She has performed as a soloist under conductors Nicholas McGegan, Simon Carrington, and most recently Masaaki Suzuki in concerts featuring Bach’s Mass in B-Minor with Julliard415 on tour in Japan and Singapore. Ms. Netter has premiered numerous works, including a solo performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. by composer Ran Duan, the U.S. premiere of Sentences, for solo soprano and live electronics by British composer Simon Emmerson, and performed composer Sven-David Sandström’s Messiah under Helmuth Rilling with the Festival Ensemble Stuttgart choir. Ms. Netter is a 2010 graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied composition and contemporary voice. Afterward, she spent one year in Kyoto, Japan teaching English with the JET Program.

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sara Couden is a second-year member of the Yale Voxtet. Equally at home in opera and sacred music, she performed as alto soloist in Bach’s Mass in B-Minor throughout Asia, as well as alto soloist for Dvořák’s Stabat Mater with the Yale Camerata, Glee Club, and Philharmonia with Maestro Helmuth Rilling. She recently completed her second summer at Music Academy of the West under the direction of Marilyn Horne where she sang the role of Third Lady in The Magic Flute and was a featured soloist in Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Academy Orchestra. She is a member of Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, and earned her master’s degree in vocal performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she performed roles such as Cornelia in Giulio Cesare, Baba in The Medium, and Bradamante in Alcina.

Tenor Kyle Stegall is a native of Columbia, Missouri. A recipient of a master of music degree from the University of Michigan, he is currently pursuing his artist diploma through the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale School of Music. This season, he appears as soloist at the 25th anniversary gala for the American Bach Soloists in San Francisco and makes his Alice Tully Hall debut with conductor Masaaki Suzuki as the Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion. This past summer, in addition to touring Japan with Yale Schola Cantorum, Mr. Stegall was a young artist at the Aldeburgh Music Festival in Suffolk, England. There he studied and performed the music of Benjamin Britten under the guidance of Ian Bostridge. This year, he looks forward to performances of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with conductor Kathleen Allan and hornist Craig Hubbard. Other upcoming engagements include performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Edmund Milly, bass-baritone, began singing as a chorister at the American Boychoir School. A native of Princeton, New Jersey, he completed his undergraduate education (B.A. and B.M.) at McGill University, followed by an M.A. in literature. During his seven years in Montreal, he sang for the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal, the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, the Montreal Symphony Choir, Viva Voce, Ensemble Caprice, and others.

Tenor Gene Stenger performed as the tenor soloist in J.S. Bach’s Magnificat under the baton of world-renowned conductor Helmuth Rilling at the National Collegiate Choral Conference held at Colorado State University. Following the conference, Rilling personally invited Mr. Stenger to perform in the chorus of the Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble with Maestro Rilling’s Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart. In March 2013, he returned to the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart to perform as the tenor soloist in J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and completed an international tour with Maestro Rilling in Germany and Chile. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Stenger also holds a master of music degree in voice performance from Colorado State University and a bachelor of music degree in voice performance from Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music.

Bass-baritone Andrew Padgett is an avid interpreter of Baroque vocal music. In the past year, he performed the role of Harapha in Handel’s Samson led by conductor Nicholas McGegan, and was also a featured soloist in the first modern performance of 17th-century Vespers settings by composers Giovanni Legrenzi and Johann Rosenmüller, conducted by Simon Carrington. This summer he was the bass soloist in performances of Bach’s Mass in B-Minor conducted by Masaaki Suzuki, which he performed on a concert tour of Japan and his hometown of Singapore. Recently he was a bass soloist in American Bach Soloists Academy performances of Biber’s Missa Salisburgensis, Handel’s Esther, and Bach’s Mass in B-Minor led by conductor Jeffrey Thomas. Mr. Padgett also has a deep interest in Medieval music, and has had the opportunity to study and perform with leading experts in the field such as Susan Hellauer, a founding member of Anonymous 4, and Benjamin Bagby, founder of Sequentia. Prior to his studies at Yale, Mr. Padgett earned a B.S. in physics and an M.M. in voice from the University of California at  Santa Barbara.

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Friday, April 4, 2014, 7:30 PM, Alice Tully Hall

J.S. BACH St. John Passion

Masaaki Suzuki, conductor

Yale Schola Cantorum


Yale Baroque Ensemble


Kyle Stegall, tenor – Evangelist

Edmund Milly, baritone – Jesus

Molly Netter, soprano

Sara Couden, mezzo-soprano

Gene Stenger, tenor

Andrew Padgett, baritone


Tickets for the Alice Tully Hall concerts at $20 are available online at www.juilliard.edu/passions, via CenterCharge (212) 721-6500, or at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office. $10 student and senior tickets are available only at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office. Admission for the Woolsey Hall, New Haven concert is free. For more information, go to http://music-tickets.yale.edu/single