A Musical Journey Through Holy Week
Two Uniting Church ministers are taking audiences on an emotional musical journey through the events of Holy Week.
The concerts take listeners from the Triumphal Entry to the Upper Room, Gethsemane to Calvary – ending on the Good Friday note of grief, mingled with consolation and hope. They are the latest in a long-running collaboration between The Reverend Radhika Sukumar-White and The Reverend Claire Wright.
According to Rev. Wright, audiences can expect an “eclectic” programme, embracing music from choral works (John Rutter’s Requiem and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater), oratorio (Bach’s Matthew Passion and Handel’s Messiah), music theatre (Jesus Christ Superstar), hymns and African-American spirituals. The music is interwoven with spoken narration from Scripture and other sources, and accompanied by some evocative visual artworks.
“Our aim is really to enable people to immerse themselves deeply in the story of Holy Week; to identify in turn with the fallible followers, the confused crowds, the grieving mother, the suffering Christ – and to reflect on their own responses to the unfolding events,” Rev. Wright said.
“It’s so easy to rush towards Easter Sunday: sometimes we need help to slow down and pay attention. But we think the concerts are also a very accessible and enjoyable way for people of faith to share the Passion story – the heart of the Gospel – with friends and neighbours who may not have encountered it before.”
Rev. Sukumar-White previously told Insights that the two ministers are quite happy to include secular music alongside church songs in their concerts.
Concerts to Raise Money for Worthy Causes
Rev. Wright told Insights that they were “delighted” to donate all proceeds from ticket sales to worthwhile causes, “chosen by each of this year’s concert venues.” For example, Canberra City Uniting Church’s event will raise money for UnitingWorld’s Cyclone Gita appeal.
“For us, it’s just an amazing privilege to live this story through the week,” she said. “And together. And with passion.”
The idea for the performances was born when, as candidates for ministry, Claire and Radhika decided to sing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater together one Easter.
“It’s one of the few great works written for our voice types – and very beautiful in its own right: a prayerful meditation on the crucifixion of Jesus from Mary’s point of view,” Rev. Wright recalled.
“Having discovered that we loved singing together – and having found an extraordinary collaborator in keyboardist Phillip Fraser – we looked around for other works to present the following year. Nothing leapt to mind, so we decided to ‘curate’ our own programme.”
The Holy Week Musical Reflections take place on the dates listed below. Tickets are $20 at the door.
Monday 26th March 7:30pm: Bathurst Uniting Church
Wednesday 28th March 7:30pm: Marrickville Hepisipa Uniting Church (Tonga Parish)
Friday 30th March 7:30pm: Canberra City Uniting Church
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor