Bach Vespers

About the Bach Vespers Services

Throughout his career, but especially during his years as the Cantor of the St Thomas Church in Leipzig for the last 27 years of his life, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote church cantatas.  These are works for choir, soloists and orchestra, usually about 20 to 25 minutes in length, that were designed to provide musical commentary on the scripture readings for the day on which they were performed.  Perhaps a dozen of Bach’s cantatas are well known as concert repertoire, such as Cantata 140, “Wachet auf”; Cantata 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden”; and Cantata 80, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”.  But Bach wrote approximately 300 church cantatas, of which nearly 200 survive.  Most are masterpieces, but largely unknown to concert audiences.

Because Bach’s church cantatas were intended for the liturgy and not the concert hall, they only come fully alive within a liturgical context.  The Bach Vespers format provides enough of a liturgical context for Bach’s cantatas to speak as they were meant to do.  The two readings to which the cantata responds are read, and two or three congregational hymns–often Lutheran chorales with which Bach would have been familiar–are sung.  The Ensemble usually also performs a motet or other choral piece along with the cantata.

Bach Vespers allow us to hear and appreciate this largely unexplored and varied repertoire, which includes some of Bach’s finest compositional work, in a fresh “new” way, close to they way Bach meant them to be heard.

 

2017 – 2018 Bach Vespers

Bach Vespers for Advent Sunday
Sunday, December 3, 2017
4:00 p.m.

J.S. Bach, Cantata 30
‘Freue dich, erlöste Schar’

Zachary Wadsworth
“Heaven” from The Far West

Sheila Dietrich, soprano
Sarah Pearson, alto
Christopher Fischer, tenor
Richard Hrytzak, bass

Kenneth Hull, conductor

St. John the Evangelist Church
23 Water St. North, Kitchener, Ontario

Free admission
Donations gratefully received

Hauptmusik Project Launch
Sunday, January 14, 2018
4:00 p.m.

Over the next seven days, Zachary Wadsworth will compose a new cantata to a text by Amanda Jernigan. Spiritus Ensemble will premiere the new work at its January 28 Bach Vespers.

Come hear composer Zachary Wadsworth, poet Amanda Jernigan, project organizer Daniel Cabena, and Artistic Director Kenneth Hull discuss this new project, followed by a performance of Bach Cantata 82, ‘Ich habe genug’ by alto Daniel Cabena and organist Tim Pyper.

St. John the Evangelist Church
23 Water St. North, Kitchener, Ontario

Free admission
Donations gratefully received

Bach Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation
Sunday, January 28, 2018
4:00 p.m.

Bach Cantata 98
‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’

Zachary Wadsworth
New Cantata Premiere

Soloists: TBA

Kenneth Hull, conductor

St. John the Evangelist Church
23 Water St. North, Kitchener, Ontario

Free admission
Donations gratefully received

 

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