So Old It's New Volume 4: Passion Plays

The Brothers Balliett streams Thursdays at 3 pm and Sundays at 8 pm on Q2 Music

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Panel from the early 15th-century stained glass window in the Lady Chapel of York Minster (Unknown)

Continuing their four-part mini-series investigating music that is so OLD (think pre-1200), that it actually begins to sound NEW, today the Brothers Balliett listen to works that fit into the rubric of "passion plays"– extremely early dramatic works that re-created the birth and death of Jesus for medieval church congregations. 

Many passion plays were composed before music notation had reached the level of precision it had by the baroque era, so performers of today must reconstruct these works based on sometimes very scanty evidence. This makes these reconstructions living works of new music, but inspired and informed by their 10th century foundations. 

The Play of Daniel is a great example of this--we'll hear a selection from this old testament dramatization, with some truly inventive and contemporary sounding scenes. We'll also hear Marcel Peres's performance of works from the Carmina Burana manuscript (a codex which contained sacred works as well as the poetry that was the basis for Orff's famous work). Peres believes music of this time was influenced by Arabic singing, and the performance reflects this intriguing idea.

In addition to all of this, we'll hear Paul Hillier's group do some impressive hocketing, and a fantastic NEW passion play: Harrison Birtwistle's The Ring of the Nazarene, based on the apocryphal Acts of John.

If you love NEW music, this show may just get you excited about OLD music.

Hosted by:

Brad Balliett and Doug Balliett

Comments [2]

Brad Balliett

Hi Aaron, Thanks for listening! At the moment, our show is only available at the time it airs. If you like, I'm happy to send you a list of the pieces we program. You can be in touch with us at

Feb. 10 2015 11:15 PM
aaron from chicago

Is it possible to find a podcast or recording of this show anywhere if I missed it on the stream?

Feb. 06 2015 04:31 PM

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