Bach Vespers for October: The Reformation

The Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with J. S. Bach’s great Reformation Day cantata, Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80 (“A Mighty Fortress is our God”) led by Director of Music Carlton Monroe. This cantata will be the centerpiece of the Bach Vespers on Sunday, October 22, at 5:00 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

Cantata 80 is one of the true masterpieces of the cantata repertoire. It features the familiar hymn tune for which it is named in nearly every movement, in variations which highlight Bach’s genius and creativity.

Soloists will include Melissa Harvey, Lauren McAlister, Jason Vest and Hayden Smith, along with the instrumentalists of the Bach Ensemble. The Bach Ensemble will perform the cantata the following week in a special outreach service at First Lutheran Church, Louisville, Kentucky, as part of that congregations celebration of the Reformation.

Bach Vespers Kick-Off

The Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas begins their eighth year with a Bach Vespers service featuring both a cantata and a motet by J. S. Bach. The prelude to the service will be his magnificent motet Singet dem Herrn nein neues Lied, BWV 225 while the service is centered around the cantata Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin, BWV 144 (Take what is thine and go), both perform by the instrumentalists and singers of the BEST in the intimate space of St. Thomas.

Singet dem Herrn is one of Bach’s most dazzling vocal works, with double chorus participating in a musical high-wire act. Cantata 144 was originally written in Leipzig for performance in 1724 and is scored for soprano, alto, and tenor soloists, choir, strings, oboes and oboe d’amore.

Highlights from the 2017-2018 season include performances of Bach’s great reformation cantata Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott in Cincinnati and Louisville, the annual Messiah Sing-Along, a cantata performance on Christmas Eve prior to St. Thomas’s Midnight Mass, Bach’s arrangement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in March, an April collaboration with the May Festival Youth Chorus, and Bach cantatas every month of the year, September to May.

This season is again part of the BEST’s 200 in 20 Project with the goal of performing all of Bach’s sacred cantatas over the course of 20 years.