Weekender

State College Choral Society to commemorate 65th year with ‘St. John Passion’ performance

The State College Choral Society will commemorate its 65th anniversary with a performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John’s Passion.”
The State College Choral Society will commemorate its 65th anniversary with a performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John’s Passion.” Photo provided

With 120 members, the State College Choral Society is the largest group in central Pennsylvania that performs classical works. The SCCS will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion.”

“The main theme is the story of Christ’s Passion depicted in very tangible and dramatic music,” said Dr. Russell Shelley, a Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music at Juniata College in Huntingdon and chair of the department of music. He started as State College Choral Society music director in 2000.

“Audience members are afforded an opportunity to hear magnificent Bach genius performed by extremely talented instrumentalists and singers,” he said. “From subtle tenderness to raucous anger, the pendulum swings quite wide in this comprehensive drama.”

The concert will feature Richard Kennedy as the Evangelist, Aaron Keeney as Jesus, James White as Pilate, soprano Kristin Paschen, alto Janice Mianulli, tenor Carlos Feliciano and concertmaster James Lyon.

The concert is performed in the traditional oratorio-style, which includes an orchestra, soloists and a chorus.

“Each of these soloists achieve the drama of the story,” Shelley said. “The chorus serves both as the crowd and the reflective commentators on the action. The key to the St. John Passion is the Evangelist role. The soloist narrates the action throughout the two-hour concert.”

The choral society is a nonprofit organization that started in 1949. Through the years, the chorus has presented an impressive number of full-length classical works, including baroque to 21st-century pieces, from J.S. Bach to John Rutter. The singers concentrate on performing full-length pieces from the classical repertoire, but it occasionally commissions new works.

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