Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | April 10, 2020

Seven Last Words of Christ for Good Friday


The celebrated Alexander String Quartet spent Easter Week creating a virtual performance of Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, the composer’s reflection for Good Friday. Each musician recorded his part separately while sheltering-in-place, and their brilliant engineer and producer, Matt Carr, blended them together into one. It proved a time-consuming endeavor coping with many challenges (no click-track) but, providing a welcome opportunity to attempt to assemble something of appropriate significance in challenging times.

Verse readings by Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral, are intended to be spoken between each section of music. Read them here

The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition in 1985. They have performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premiere ensembles and are a major artistic presence in their home base of San Francisco serving since 1989 as Ensemble in Residence of San Francisco Performances. The ASQ is in residence at San Francisco State University where they are members of the string faculty in the School of Music and instructional faculty at the Morrison Chamber Music Center.

The Seven Last Words of Christ was commissioned in 1786 for the Good Friday service at Oratorio de la Santa Cueva (Holy Cave Oratory) in Cádiz, Spain. The seven main meditative sections—labelled “sonatas” and all slow—are framed by a slow Introduction and a fast “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements.

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