St Matthew Passion – Winchester Cathedral

Update 17:08, Friday 02 March: The forecast for tomorrow looks encouraging, and we hope to see you at the Cathedral for our performance. Still some tickets remaining, if you have not yet purchased yours. Wrap up warmly (and consider bringing a cushion, too)! 

The Hanover Band
David Gibson conductor

David Burrows Evangelist
Nicholas Warden Christus
Laura Oldfield soprano
Kate Symonds-Joy mezzo-soprano
Gwilym Bowen tenor
Edmund Saddington baritone


Telling the story of the Passion, the final days of Jesus's life, is a tradition that dates back to the fourth century. This originally took the form of a liturgical chant, but during the sixteenth century, music and theology became tightly bound and from this time, the Passion began to be sung and performed in different ways. Bach's St Matthew Passion was first performed in 1726 and tells the tale from the perspective of Matthew, one of the Apostles. 

The St Matthew Passion is acknowledged the world over as one of the outstanding works of Western Culture; containing some of the most beautiful music ever written, as well as some of the most dramatic moments, particularly for the chorus as part of the narrative. In Bach’s day, the audience would also have been expected to join in with the Chorales (well-known Lutheran hymns of the period), which form part of the structure and allow for considered reflection on the story. Overall, it could be viewed as the most outstanding baroque opera ever written, but conceived for performance in an inspiring ecclesiastical building such as Winchester Cathedral. In such a space, a work of this intensity and quality can hardly fail to inspire: the piece manages to be simultaneously vast and delicate, utilising the forces of two choirs and two orchestras, who perform together and apart, throughout. This emphasises the dialogic character of the text, whilst at the same time providing additional depth within the texture of the music.
Bach wrote primarily out of a deep Christian faith, and probably did not appreciate the greatness of the work he had produced. The piece remains a favourite amongst performers and audiences alike, perhaps because Bach achieved such balance and representation of both tragedy and beauty throughout, and perhaps also because the subjects of love, hate and betrayal are such human and universal experiences.

The Passion will be performed in English rather than the original German, enabling singers and audience alike to engage more fully in the text and to better immerse themselves in the telling of the story; a choice that reflects Bach's own decision to use everyday language, rather than Latin, in the original composition.

The choir is delighted to welcome back the Hanover Band, whose passion for excellence and strong education programme have reinforced their reputation as one of the finest period orchestras in the UK.


Tickets cost £12, £18, £26 and £32, with concessions, including a generous group concession (buy 5 tickets and get a 6th ticket free - applies across all ticket prices, but the concession is applied to the ticket of lowest value in your order).

Tickets may be bought directly from the Cathedral Box Office (open Monday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm, Saturdays 11am - 3pm, and until 4.30pm concert days), or online.

Bookings by phone (01962 857275) are subject to a booking fee of £1 per ticket, plus a 75p postage fee (if you want them sent to you).

Online bookings are subject to a booking fee of 75p per ticket, plus a 75p postage fee (if you want them sent to you).

Enquiries may be made by email but it is not possible make bookings this way, nor is it possible to make provisional bookings.