Two nights ago we heard the St. Thomas Leipzig choir in concert, and last night we heard the St. Thomas New York City sing. I first am surprised that we have heard two American choirs (Valparaiso University being the other choir) at the BachFest.
Valparaiso sang a good bit of American music in addition to a Bach cantata, and I remember writing that it seemed strange to hear American music here. But to have an American choir sing a Bach cantata may be akin to “bringing coals to Newcastle” or “selling snow to Eskimos.”
Last night the St. Thomas New York choir sang a number of familiar anthems: Britten’s Jubilate deo, Byrd’s Laudibus in Sion, and Parry’s I was glad. But they also sung the same Bach motet we heard the night before, Der Geist hilft, in addition to music by German composers, Johann Kuhnau’s Gott hat uns nicht gesetzt zum Zorn, and Johann Hiller’s fleisch wie gras, which made me think of “coals to Newcastle.” The choir also sang Jonathan Harvey’s Come holy spirit, and I remenber how hard the LCH choir had to work to pull this off.
I must say that we were surprised at the sheer volume of the choir in this space because although we have heard them many times in New York, they sounded really loud in Leipzig. Carl said he never heard a choir sound so loud.
The choir got a standing ovation which is rare in Europe. For an encore, they sang Gerre Hancock’s Deep river.
The assistant organist, Frederick Teardo, played several solo organ pieces and was excellent. He played Bach’s Komm, heiliger Geist, and this was a much better performance than we heard in Freiburg.