Cantata 67 ‘Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ’
Hold in memory Jesus Christ, that he has risen from the dead
Jesu, meine Freude
Jesu, my joy
‘Sheep may safely graze’ from Cantata 208
My soul doth magnify the Lord
Saturday 29th April, 7.30pm
St Margaret’s Church, Lime Avenue, Leigh on Sea SS9 2SE
A celebration of the choral music of Johann Sebastian Bach, with the Leigh Bach Players and soloists from within the choir.
Gaudeamus is a chamber choir based in Leigh on Sea, Essex, with a reputation for the quality of its singing. Most of our concerts take place in the Southend area but we also enjoy foreign concert tours, most recently to France, where we sang in Notre Dame,[ de Paris and Chartres cathedrals. Although we sing a range of styles, we specialise in Classical repertoire, and the music of J S Bach is a particular favourite of ours. Three years ago we gave a memorable performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and we are delighted to be able to return to the music of this great man again.
We will be accompanied by the Leigh Bach Players, an orchestra of local musicians, mostly members of Southend Symphony Orchestra and local music teachers. As well as the more usual instruments, the Leigh Bach Players includes the oboe d’amore and piccolo trumpet, instruments which were in common use in Bach’s time and which lend a distinctive Baroque flavour to the orchestral sound.
Bach wrote over 200 cantatas, one for each Sunday of the year. Some are well known but others are rarely performed, which is a pity, as they contain some wonderful music which needs to be heard more often. Cantata 67 “Halt im Gedachtnis Jesum Christ” was written for the Sunday after Easter, and includes a joyful opening chorus which celebrates Jesus rising from the dead, and a dramatic movement where he appears among the crowd saying “Peace be with you”.
Jesu meine Freude is a motet for unaccompanied choir, based on a German chorale or hymn. It is a devotional work which reflects Bach’s Christian faith: “Whatever the world may throw at me, Jesus is with me”, with sections in contrasting styles, from simple but beautiful hymn verses, dramatic declarations, and complex counterpoint, with the five voice parts weaving in and out of each other to create a rich tapestry of sound. This variety and intensity of the musical writing makes Jesu meine Freude a favourite with choirs, and we are delighted to be able to sing it in this concert.
‘Sheep may safely graze’ is a well-known aria from one of Bach’s secular cantatas, for soprano solo (our own Elizabeth Upsher), two flutes and continuo. It has a light, rustic mood, which contrasts with the more complex sounds textures of some of the other works in this concert.
The Magnificat, a setting of the Virgin Mary’s song of joy, is one of Bach’s most joyful works. The orchestra features three trumpets and timpani, with a particularly sparkling part for the piccolo trumpet, as well as oboes d’amore, flutes and strings. The various movements reflect the mood of the words, from the drama of “He hath put down the mighty from their seat”, to the tenderness of “He has filled the hungry with good things” and ending with the rousing ‘Glory to God in the highest’, where the voices climb upwards towards the final exuberant climax.
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