Those of you who attended my celebration party on April 14th heard me extend an invitation to come back to the Lutheran Church of Honolulu on Sunday, August 18th and August 25th for Bach Masterworks: The Great Eighteen Chorales. Yep, I’ve officially set the date for presenting these great masterpieces, BWV 651-668 in a 2-concert Bach mini-series. I said once before that to hear these 18 pieces in one sitting would be a little bit like eating a two-pound box of chocolates all by yourself, so I’m going to split them up into two concerts.
By the way, there’s a little controversy over the name — The Great Eighteen Chorales are also called The Leipzig Chorales. That is because these chorale settings were found in a lot called P271 in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, along with the Six Trio Sonatas (BWV 525-530) and the Canonic Variations (BWV 769). Bach did not name this set of pieces, but it was the editor, Wilhelm Rust, who gave the set the title “Achtzehn Choräle von verschiedener Art” — 18 Chorales of Various Types. Seventeen of the pieces were placed in front of the Canonic Variations, and the unfinished BWV 668 (“Vor deinem Thron”) was found at the end. Whether this properly should be called The Great Eighteen or the Great Seventeen has never been worked out by scholars.
The term, The Leipzig Chorales, is not quite right either, because it is generally accepted that Bach first composed these pieces while at Weimar, but extensively re-worked them while in Leipzig.
Whatever the name — I’m going ahead with the concerts! Each chorale prelude will be preceded by the performance of the corresponding 4-part chorale, sung by the Bach Chamber Choir — in German, of course!
Notice, though, the starting times — Sundays at 2 pm. I know that this is an unusual starting time for concerts in Honolulu, but hey! — think of these as matinee concerts! The series will be sponsored by the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists in cooperation with the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Proceeds will go towards the scholarship programs of the AGO.