Warmest greetings from Sinfonia Chorale!
Some of you may have attended our recent Come and Sing/Play event, exploring Bach’s Magnificat and his Cantata 21, under the expert tutelage of Richard Roddis and Nicolette Moonen, with the talented Michael Overbury on the organ. The day received positive feedback and we definitely enjoyed it – even doing the washing-up (and the numerous other jobs) together was fun! Singing and playing the pieces is an exciting challenge – navigating the exhilarating runs and adding nuanced expression to the text can be very rewarding!
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was much-admired by other musicians and the public. He was a composer in nearly every genre (apart from opera), as well as a virtuoso organist, violinist, teacher and wonderful craftsman. Bach was born into a very musical family – his father was a court and town musician and he studied music with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who was an organist. He also found time to father twenty children, from two marriages, but, sadly, only nine outlived him. He took up the prestigious post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig in 1723 and, also in this year, set the text of the Magnificat in a 12-movement composition in E-flat major. At some point he also inserted 4 hymns (Christmas interpolations) which we will include at our concert. In 1733 Bach altered the version, changing it to D major because of the trumpet tuning. This is now the standard, and one of his most popular vocal works. It is scored for 5 vocal parts, soloists and Baroque orchestra. The words of the Magnificat (praising God most highly) are from the Gospel of Luke, and are spoken by Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, during the time when they were both pregnant.
Bach’s music is often intense, exciting, complex and takes the listener (and performer) on a thrilling journey through a variety of emotions. He composed hundreds of cantatas over his career - as a working musician he had to produce new pieces regularly and quickly for his different employers.
The church cantata, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (I had great sorrow) (BWV 21) was possibly composed during 1713 in Weimar, where Bach was a court musician for the Duke, and then performed in 1714. The text, which uses biblical quotations, was probably written by Salomon Franck, who was a librettist for many of Bach’s cantatas. It consists of two parts: one would have been performed before a sermon and one after, and it was considered to be ‘suitable for any occasion’.
A Baroque ensemble, soprano, tenor and bass soloists and an SATB choir perform this work, which weaves its way through themes of suffering and mourning, passing into movements of joyous praise. It was revised for different performances and Bach also used it in 1723, in his new role as Thomaskantor in Leipzig.
If you have the urge to listen to some inspiring music, it would be wonderful to see you at our concert on Saturday March 25th, 7.30pm, at Beeston Parish Church, Middle Street, Beeston, NG9 1GA. Tickets are £15 and £5 for students. They are available from our website or on the door.
Many thanks to you all for your continued support of the Choir - we are very appreciative and grateful!