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NEW YORK: January 24, 2011
Tickets on Sale for the NYC Premiere of “St Matthew Passion” By Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk

In 1727, JS Bach drew church congregations into the drama of Christ’s suffering and death through his monumental composition, the St Matthew Passion. Today, Russian Orthodox Christian composer and churchman Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) is offering the post-modern world a corresponding experience with his fresh and original St Matthew Passiona profound piece of sacred concert music that combines Gospel narrative with liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church. 

Concert lovers in Moscow, Rome, Melbourne, and Toronto have already greeted performances of the work with standing ovations. Eternal Word Televisio n Network (EWTN), a Roman Catholic television station that reviewed the performance in Rome, characterized the opus as “unique in the history of contemporary music, in its musicality, its variety and coherence, and its emotional and spiritual depth.”  

Now, a New York City audience will have the same opportunity to hear this moving composition, which describes the Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of St Matthew through an exquisite interplay of soloists, choir, and orchestra. On Monday, February 7, 2011, St Vladimir’s Seminary will present the US English-language premiere of the piece at 7:30 pm at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Columbus Avenue, between 59th and 60th Streets, New York City. 

Dr Greg Hobbs, director of music at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, will conduct the performance, as well as the Dallas premiere of the work, one week following the NYC premiere. He holds a Doctor of Music in conducting from Northwestern University, where he specialized in large scale choral-orchestral repertoire. 

Performers will include The Salome Chamber Orchestra, famed soloists soprano Mary Mackenzie, mezzo-soprano Ana Mihanovic, tenor Blake Friedman, and bass Aaron Theno, and the New York Virtuoso Singers prepared by Harold Rosenbaum. The principal baritone part of the "Evangelist" will be sung by Protodeacon Vadim Gan. As a prelude to the season of Great Lent, the composition will convey the Gospel account—using scriptural texts interspersed with texts of the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church that are normally sung during Holy Week—in the forms of music recitative, choruses, fugues, and arias.

The composer, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, who is Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations and an episcopal member of Board of Trustees of St Vladimir’s Seminary, will also be present at the premiere. His musical expertise and reputation are renowned; he studied composition at Moscow Gnessins School of Music and subsequently at the Moscow State Conservatory. In 1987 he was ordained a priest, and since 2002 he has been a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church.

A polyglot and exceptionally gifted, Metropolitan Hilarion has authored more than 600 publications, including twenty books that have been translated into major European languages. Two of his books, Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent into Hades from an Orthodox Perspective (2009) and Christian Orthodoxy (upcoming 2011) have been published under the auspices of St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. His musical compositions include the Divine Liturgy (2006) and All-Night Vigil (2006) for a cappella choir; the Christmas Oratorio for soloists, boys choir, mixed choir, and symphony orchestra (2007); and A Song of the Ascent, a choral symphony on the Psalms (2008). 

The inspiration for his St Matthew Passion came to Metropolitan Hilarion “out of the blue” as he was driving from Vienna to Budapest on August 19, 2006, the Feast of the Transfiguration according to the Julian calendar. His vivid account of the origination of the work is remarkable and may be read in an interview conducted by Zenit. 

Tickets for The St Matthew Passion are in tiered prices: 

  • $250 for a VIP pre-concert reception (5:30 pm to 7 pm) at the New York Athletic Club and preferred concert seating; 
  • $45 for preferred concert seating only; 
  • $20 for general concert seating only; and
  • $15 for students and senior citizens, general concert seating only. 

Order tickets online now. Total seating is limited to 700. Overflow general seating may be available on the night of the performance, but it will be limited. Please continue to check St Vladimir’s website for ticket availability.  

NOTE: VIP concertgoers may pick up their pre-paid tickets at the New York Athletic Club. Other concertgoers may pick up their pre-paid tickets at the Church of the Apostle Paul up to one hour prior to the performance. Please bring your ticket purchase confirmation, sent to you via e-mail upon registration, when you pick up your tickets. Ticket purchases are not refundable.

If you are in proximity to St Vladimir's Seminary, you may also reserve seats on the buses leaving from the seminary campus February 7th promptly at 6:15 pm. You may reserve your bus seat, priced at $15, online; by e-mailing events@svots.edu, or by calling 914-961-8313 x323.

Enjoy an excerpt from the Russian-language version of Metropolitan Hilarion's St. Matthew Passion online, and join us at the U.S. English-language premiere! 

St Vladimir’s Seminary is pleased to acknowledge the generous funding of this event by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and The St Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation, and also thanks the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for its cooperative efforts in presenting this concert. 

For further information, email events@svots.edu, or call 914-961-8313 X323. 

Download the attached high resolution flyer for this upcoming event and share it with your family, church family, and friends! Or, send the low res flyer electronically through your social networks!