Through the Bach+ Cantata Vespers, engage with some of J.S. Bach’s Leipzig cantatas, considered by many to be among the crowning achievements of a learned musician who was deeply committed to his faith. This “mini cantata cycle,” presented over the course of the season, includes several that are presented in the conjunction with worship services at St. Anne’s, much in the same way that Bach’s Leipzig congregation would have experienced them.
A major focus of this season's Cantata Vespers is Bach's Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, dating from 1734-35, which celebrates the liturgical seasons associated with the Nativity (Advent, Christmas and Epiphany). In keeping with the spirit of the work, Bach+ is presenting selections from each of the cantatas across the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Unlike the Passions or other Leipzig cantatas, the Christmas Oratorio describes not simply a single event or a particular aspect of Christian life (e.g,. joy, gratitude, penitence) but instead the complex theology of the Incarnation and Manifestation of Christ. While each of the six sections takes the form of a cantata, the entire work makes use of dramatic devices similar to those in the famous passions, including a re-telling of the Gospel narrative (sung by an evangelist), meditations and commentaries (arias) on the events, and reflective prayer (the chorales).
On Thursday, February 1st, on the eve of the Feast of the Purification (the formal end to the Christmas season according to older liturgical traditions), Bach+ presents Cantata VI, the last part of the Christmas Oratorio. This cantata continues the story of the three magi but with a strong focus on the plotting of the enemies of the infant Jesus, specifically Herod. In the libretto, the prevalent conflict between the powers of good and evil also foreshadows the themes that will come to the fore during the imminent seasons of Lent, Passiontide, and the Easter Season. The final chorus of Cantata VI builds on the melody of O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded (the "Passion Chorale") which, as the theologian and Bach scholar Robin Leaver points out, pulls together the "various allusions to the purpose for which Christ was born: he was born to die".
In addition, baritone Ryan DeRyke brings amazing depth and insight to Cantata 82, Ich habe genug. Nearly three centuries ago, J.S. Bach created one of the most sublime and beautiful works he ever composed. The solo cantata Ich habe genug (BWV 82), composed for bass (baritone) soloist, was written for the Feast of the Purification, which commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus at the Temple. The gospel of Luke tells us that when Jesus was taken to the temple, Joseph and Mary encountered a man, Simeon, who had been promised that "he should not see death before he had seen the Christ." As the story continues, when Simeon saw Jesus, he said a prayer that would become known as the Nunc Dimittis. Bach captures this amazing and profound story with some of the most beautiful music imaginable. This work will start our musical journey on February 1st at 6:15pm in St. Anne's Church.
November 5, 2017, 6:15 p.m. (immediately following the 5:30 service)
“Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” - BWV 80“
December 14, 2017, 6:15 p.m.
Christmas Oratorio” - BWV 248 (Part 1)
December 24, 2017, 10:30 p.m. (prelude to the 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Service)
“Christmas Oratorio” - BWV 248 (Part 2)
January 7, 2018, 5:30 p.m. (during the evening service for the Feast of the Epiphany)
“Christmas Oratorio” - BWV 248 (Selections from Parts 3-5)
February 1, 2018, 6:15 p.m. (Eve of the Feast of the Presentation)
“Christmas Oratorio” - BWV 248 (Part 6)