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A girl looking at the sky.

The Little Match Girl Passion

14 October 2023

Please note this event does not take place at Sydney Opera House.

David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion views Hans Christian Andersen’s dark tale through the lens of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Find the passion in this timeless narrative of suffering and hope, elevated to a higher plane with breathtaking music that resonates with emotional power.

Woven into a luminous, ever-moving tapestry, its vocal lines evoke a fragile world full of soaring hope and ominous shadows.

The Classical Review

The Little Match Girl Passion

David Lang’s Pulitzer prize-winning Little Match Girl Passion takes Hans Christian Andersen’s dark tale – almost too despairing to be a children’s story – and views it through the lens of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, weaving its narrative of suffering and hope with commentary and reflections that heighten its emotional impact.

“There is no Bach in this piece,” says Lang, “and there is no Jesus.” Instead he substitutes the suffering of the Little Match Girl for Jesus’ suffering, “elevating her sorrow to a higher plane”.  

Musically, The Little Match Girl Passion combines the clarity of unaccompanied voices with the antique aura of bells and drums, building a haunting sound world from the simplest of means. It’s impossible to hear this breathtaking music – this passion for our time – and be left unmoved. It will be complemented by music for choir and piano by Australian composers Luke Byrne and Naomi Crellin.


Four Songs from Grimm’s

The Six Swans

Thrice Upon a Time*

David LANG 
The Little Match Girl Passion



Elizabeth Scott 


Luke Byrne 

Presented by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs

Other information

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