On Sunday, the public gathered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to contemplate the Passion of Christ through a unique artistic medium. The story that has inspired countless dramatizations across the centuries is now presented in a contemporary adaptation, bringing together diverse genres of popular music in a work designed to enliven and elucidate the Passion of Christ in the imagination. Even more impressive than this idea was to observe how the students collaborated to create meaningful poetry and compose fiery music, producing a fusion of breathtaking pieces.
Just as the purpose of the Folk Choir was to enrich its memory, the figure of Memory itself guides the audience through the events of the Gospels. The lessons and themes of the piece are presented by none other than the Spirit, who initiates sweet moments of reflection through his solos. The focus is on the feelings felt by each character, which makes the narrative approachable and inviting. Each instrumentalist and singer embodied the feelings they were meant to communicate, and the purity of the notes and the beauty of the music emanated from them.
The presence of musical parallels created a cohesion within the performance, allowing the public to grasp the links present in Scripture, as was the case with the anointing of the feet of Jesus by Mary Magdalene and the washing of the feet disciples. Both continually emphasize the importance of the washes as a shining moment of selflessness as the chorus repeats the action itself during Madeleine’s reflections. Finally, Magdalene and the chorus reiterate the same theme, remembering the washing of Jesus’ body in preparation for his burial.
Another notable parallel was the decision to feature a prologue and an epilogue, both set against the backdrop of Holy Saturday. As the disciples are preoccupied with their grief, despair, and search in the past for answers in the opening, the conclusion displays transformed feelings and a stab – a clue to the impending resurrection. The influence of African-American spirituality was yet another aspect of the final piece’s impact.
Each time the chorus rose to embellish the strength of a particular scene, soaring, beaming chords overflowed the atmosphere. Words like ‘innocence’ were given a nice prolonged suspension, and the quiet, soft whispers of ‘We gave it up’ showed the pangs of guilt as they echoed through the consciousness of those who remembered the scene. of Gethsemane. Whispers of tension developed at key moments, such as when the high priests urged the crowd to join them in the chastisement of Jesus.
The music expresses the meaning of the text in all its intensity. In the Palm Sunday scene, the choir sings the phrase “Can we believe our eyes?” with notes that rise, swell and climb over each other, reflecting the growing awareness that stirs among people. During the foot-washing scene after Jesus explains that the apostles will see him no more, the apostles’ confusion is best seen through the prolonged moans of “Master, where are you going?” The way the piano shimmers with panicked schisms within the events of the Gethsemane scene depicts the ongoing chaos.
“Passion” also made a point of illustrating the tangible and physical aspects of the story. At the carrying of the cross, the choir physically trampled to evoke the procession. Or, recounting the agonizing last breaths before Jesus’ death, the chorus united to enliven the in-breath and out-breath. Even the clicking of the nails on the cross could be heard in tangent to the ongoing melodies.
To produce a work of this length and scale was an incredible accomplishment. However, this brilliant effort was not limited to Sunday, as the Folk Choir will continue to present “The Passion” on tour and will also record an album in Israel. It is an experience in which all must participate, because the depth of the work remains too great to describe.