I know Handel’s Messiah is banned in China but I didn’t know that orchestras in Israel never performs Bach’s Passions. So it will be an electrifying night at the Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday when Jewish maestro Asher Fisch (who rarely conducts Baroque repertoire) will conduct St John Passion with the WA Symphony Orchestra.

In a fascinating essay for Limelight magazine Fisch explains that he wants to close the historical circle:

“I am a strange Jew. From very early on I loved the sights of the Passion in Israel. I used to go along to Gethsemane, I know Golgotha. I feel, in a strange way, much closer to the Passion story than billions of Christians in the world because it took place in my backyard.

When German baritone Roman Trekel, who has sung thousands of Passions, came to Israel, one of the most thrilling things I did, was say, “Come on, I want to take you to the sights. I want to experience you visiting them for the first time.” It was incredible because he had sung the names for years and years and never seen them, while I grew up there.

Except for Jérusalem by Verdi, Samson and Delilah and Salome, I cannot think of another dramatic work which takes place in my home town. I first heard the Passions because my parents had a record of the St John. I never heard a live performance, it was never done in Israel. It’s almost boycotted, you might say.”

Read the full essay at Limelight Magazine.