For the last couple of weeks we have been working on music for the next Bach Vespers, which will take place on Sunday, October 30th, at 7:30 pm, the eve of Reformation. The two major choral works include Bach Cantata Nr 9, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (Salvation has come to us) and Heinrich Schütz’ Latin Magnificat.
I was telling Miguel Felipe that even though we include music of other composers, we have always called the services Bach Vespers, because “BACH SELLS!” — at least, it does in this town. (However, there is no admission charge — donations are welcomed.) The heart of the service is the Bach Cantata, which follows a short homily. Of course, in Bach’s day, the sermon was an HOUR long! not the ten minutes that Pastor Jeff Lilley will probably use.
The other major choral work will be Heinrich Schütz’ Latin Magnificat, and is scored for double choir, four soloists and instruments. When Carl Crosier, Vreni Griffith and I went to the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, where Schütz worked as a church musician for 55 years, the architecture of the building made such an impression on us. No wonder Schütz composed polychoral music — it was easy to imagine musical groups all over that place.
I am also resurrecting Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 546, which I have not played in many years. I actually learned this piece over forty years ago when I was a student of Marcel Dupré in Paris, and played it in a recital at the end of my stay there. According to program notes on a compact disc written by my former teacher, Joan Lippincott, the piece “displays the strong influence of vocal writing (this time polychoral style, seen in the alternating chords at the beginning) and a structure that features four ritornello sections and highly imitative episodes.”
Mark your calendars for an evening of Bach and Schütz.