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Jan Luiten van Zanden

Surviving without the Matthäus Passion

I can not help it, I think of Bach on Sunday mornings.

Bach Matthäus Passion, “Oh Haupt voll Blut, und Wunden”

It will be a year without the Matthäus Passion, without going to one of the performances, and without taking part in one. Other things I miss even more, but no Matthäus is also a big blow. When some 8 years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s I wondered if I had a bucket list and what was on it. And yes, I found out that it consisted of one thing only: singing the Matthäus as member of a choir. I had enjoyed Bach’s music all my life, but never tried to sing in a choir, so this was the moment to try this. I took singing lessons, joined the Bachcantates (who perform a cantate every month) to get some practice, and after some time joined a decent choir – one of the many in Utrecht – that performed the Matthäus . I discovered that I could do this, and that it was not only fun, but at times a deep emotional experience. As a real junky I have been singing in different choirs since (not only performing Bach’s incredible music – including Johannes Passion and Hohe Messe – but also Verdi, Faure, Schütz, Mozart, Handel, Mendelssohn), my teacher made me sing Schubert (at a basic level, of course), and together with Josine, Keetie, Jessica, Bram and Gerard we started the esgo ensemble, well known for its contributions to parties and anniversaries. So I added a new dimension to life – Mr P (short for Parkinson’s) brought me closer to Bach.
And that is what I miss these days. It does not make a lot of sense to practice at home as it is unclear when the next performance will be. I have tried to deal with the current setback in a similar way; by forcing myself to write a daily blog, I hope to cope with the dramatic loss of agency corona is causing. It really structures my life to sit down at my desk every morning, with a plan for a new blog, and write it down. It is nice to have you as my captive audience – I can write whatever I like as we are among friends. And so I will survive even a year without the Matthäus .

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