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Passion retold to Manchester’s music

The producers of Flashmob – The Opera are engineering another production for the UK’s BBC Three for Easter, which will tell the story of the last few hours of Jesus’s life using popular music from Manchester bands over the past 30 years.

To be produced by Classical Music Television, Manchester Passion is designed to be a major event and will be broadcast live from the streets of Manchester, following key moments in the Gospel story and unfolding in a procession in the city centre.

Although a spokeswoman for BBC Three Manchester could not confirm which songs or acts were involved in the project, composer and arranger Philip Sheppard, who has worked with Oasis, Scott Walker and David Bowie, is onboard as musical director.

According to BBC Three, the music will be given a “vibrant new twist” and will be performed by characters as a drama, accompanied by a string band and well-known local musicians. It has taken inspiration from the way Bach and other composers fused music and the Passion story.

The new commission for Classic Music Television was likely to have been designed to bring young audiences to arts programmes and builds on its previous BBC Three series Flashmob – The Opera in which an opera was performed using a train station as a backdrop.

Manchester Passion will be executive produced by Sue Judd and directed by Phil Chilvers.

Adam Kemp, BBC commissioning editor for arts, music and religion, said: “We are excited by the possibility of introducing a new audience to the rich history of the Passion Plays. We’re looking forward to involving the people of Manchester in this moving live event and hopefully encouraging them to look on familiar songs with fresh eyes.”

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