Upbeat: Passion missing

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The Independent Culture
PERFORMANCES of a new reconstruction of Bach's St Mark Passion are in jeopardy, writes Andrew Green, following the failure of the EC to come up with funds to support a European Community Baroque Orchestra project. The Oxford musicologist Simon Heighes has been piecing together the two-hour long Passion - performed in Leipzig on Good Friday 1731 but subsequently lost as an entity - from the composer's cantatas and other sources. But the inaugural performances at the end of the summer in Holland, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany (Leipzig itself) and London look like falling through after the EC turned down ECBO requests for project funding from its cultural budget - the first time the orchestra has been denied assistance for a project of this nature, says its administrator Paul James. A Brussels spokesperson put the view that the offering of funds for two other ECBO projects represented a good response.

The ECBO has been informed that the problem lies in big cuts to the relevant EC budget. 'We're frantically trying to find a commercial sponsor to keep the tour alive,' said James. 'Thankfully it looks as if Oxford University may come up with cash to ensure the reconstruction is completed, but that may mean we forfeit rights to the first performance.'