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April 2014
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Observing Spring Holy Days


The Spring Equinox, which was March 20 this year, signals transition in many cultures. The Druids call it Alban Eilir, which means the light of the Earth. To Iranians, Zoroastrians, and much of central Asia, it is called Nowruz—New Year’s Day according to the Persian calendar. Many Spring festivals throughout the northern hemisphere share common themes: rebirth, the egg, light, the lamb.

Easter and Passover follow the ancient Hebrew calendar which is based on cycles of the moon (as opposed to the equinox, which represents the earth’s relation to the sun). Historically, elders would check the ripening of the barley crop in order to set the Jewish Feast of Passover. In the Christian tradition, Passover is Maundy Thursday, the Last Supper.

In the fashion world, Easter means it’s acceptable to wear white shoes.

Whatever one’s tradition, all peoples have reason to celebrate the coming of Spring—music-lovers included. In recognition of Spring traditions in Chicago’s communities, WFMT presents special programming for Passover and Holy Week.

Holy Week

Music in Chicago
Friday, April 4 at 8:00 pm

Jane Glover conducts Music of the Baroque with a cast of soloists headed by tenor Paul Agnew in a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion.


“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci

Baroque & Before with Candice Agree
Thursday, April 10 at 10 pm

Cum Cantico: Catalan Songs from the Baroque for Holy Week

The Duo Cum Cantico (baritone Xavier Pagès and theorbist/guitarist Santiago Figueras) specializes in sacred and secular Catalan music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Cum Cantico uses manuscripts held in the St. Peter and St. Paul Archive of Canet de Mar (Barcelona) and the Countess of Barcelona Chapel archive. Cum Cantico also presents some traditional songs, sung in Catalan, compiled at the beginning of the 20th century by musicologist Joan Llongueres. Recorded live in concert July 17, 2013 at St. Michael’s Chapel, La Seu d’Urgell, as part of the Pyrenees Festival of Early Music.

Chicago Bach Project 2014
Friday, April 11 at 8:00 pm

Bach’s St Matthew Passion–Live from the Harris Theater. John Nelson conducts soloists and the Chicago Bach Project Choir and Orchestra.

Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin
Weeknights at 7:00 pm

Bill takes us step by step through that seminal work, the St. Matthew Passion, by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 10:40 pm
Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 8:40 am

Listen to Candice Agree’s coverage from the 2013 Festival.

Music in Chicago
Friday, April 18 at 8:00 pm

The Vermeer Quartet presents its annual performance of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross; recorded earlier this week, with commentary.

Easter Sunday
Sunday, April 20 at various times

Music and readings throughout the day in celebration of Easter.

Weekend Mornings with Candice Agree
Sunday April 20, starting at 8:00 am

CPE Bach: Easter Cantata

Music from the Movies
Alfred Newman: music from the biblical epic, The Robe

Songs of Passion and Resurrection
Thursday, April 24 at 10:00 pm

The Scola Gregoriana of Bruges dedicates itself to the revival and renewed appreciation of Gregorian chant as one of the great masterpieces of the Church and the basis of West European musical culture. Its program was recorded live in concert August 9, 2011, at the Hermitage of San Pedro in Cicera (Cantabria) Spain.

"The Feast of the Passover" by Dirk Bouts

“The Feast of the Passover” by Dirk Bouts



A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman
Sunday, April 13 at 6:00 pm

The celebrated violinist shares music for the holiday by Handel, Halevy, Korngold, and more; plus Yiddish and Ladino folksongs. A production of WQXR/NYC.

The Passover Story
Monday, April 14 at 1:00 pm

Hear The Passover Story performed by The Western Wind Ensemble and narrated by Theo Bikel.

Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival
Tuesday, April 14, 2014 at 10:40 pm
Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 8:40 am

Listen to Candice Agree’s coverage from the 2013 Festival.

Thursday, April 17 at 8:00 pm

El Alma lastimada (The Wounded Soul) features mystical and paraliturgical poems by Hispano-Judeo poets of  medieval Spain, incl. Abraham aben Ezrá, Yehudá Haleví, and Salomon aben Gabirol; Ensemble Alia Musica recorded live at the Hermitage of San Pedro in Cicera (Cantabria) Spain.

Passover on the Best of Studs Terkel
Friday, April 18 at 10:00 pm

Weekend Mornings with Candice Agree
Saturday, April 19, 8:00 am

Handel: Israel in Egypt, Part II: Exodus







  • Janet

    It’s disgraceful to present all these pagan ‘celebrations’ as equal, as if Easter and the Resurrection were only one of many wonderful ‘cultural events’ rather than our secure promise of eternal life. You know very well all the music prompted by these diverse observances do not equal the sacred music you are forced by its very depth to showcase on this site. Why then do you renounce the Source of this music? Christian Easter is special to us, the headline here is nauseating.

    • Gabriel

      Janet, I couldn’t have stated it better. Druids? Zoroastrians? What great music of those “cultures” has thrived and developed into high art through centuries, and is celebrated and performed as great art music today? This stupid blog post is just another equivocation of Christendom with every other culture, dead or living, in the world. There is no comparison. The Christian Faith, based on Jesus of Nazareth, is what inspired and developed through Western Civilization through 20 centuries, nurtured by the monastic tradition for over 1,000 years. Our current generation thinks it is so “educated” and “inclusive”, as if it knew better than 20 centuries of Faith-inspired learning in the Western tradition.