Water Passion After St. Matthew

December 11, 2002, December 13 – 14, 2002

Alternate Title Water Passion After St. Matthew: Composed and Conducted by Tan Dun
Premiere US Premiere
Production Language English
Country of Origin United States
Description The stunning aural and visual effects elicited from the seventeen illuminated water-bowl installations placed onstage underscore and amplify the transformative powers of Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Water Passion After St. Matthew, a magnificent two-hour choral and performance work commemorating the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death.

Tan Dun, winner of the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for music composition, gained worldwide acclaim for his Grammy and Academy Award-winning score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This new work dislodges the Passion from its traditional place in Western Christianity, re-imagining it as a multicultural amalgam of musical traditions, natural sounds, percussion, and song. Monk chants, Tuvan overtone singing, and the high-pitched intonations of Eastern Opera combine with four-part chorales that recall Bach’s Passions, layered with electronically processed sounds of exotic ancient stringed instruments. The elements meld seamlessly with the gentle clacking of stones and the more familiar violin and cello, which emit an astonishing range of pitches, melodies, and tones.

Throughout, the water—a metaphor for the unity of the eternal and the external—continuously rippled and stirred by the singers and percussionists, evokes not only the ritual of baptism; as realized by Tan Dun, it is a symbol of resurrection itself, coming down to earth, returning to the atmosphere, only to return to earth again.
Identifier 2002f.00751
Season Fall 2002
VenueBAM Strong (Majestic, BAM Majestic, BAM Harvey Theater, The Rudin Family Gallery)
composerTan Dun
conductorTan Dun
lighting designerChristien Methot
sound designerDavid Sheppard
top billingTan Dun