Sonoma Bach's 2022-2023 Season Bach's World In which we explore the remarkable life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach, with special attention to the diverse influences and conditions which shaped his music.
When the eminent biologist Lewis Thomas was asked which terrestrial sounds he would choose to send into outer space in the Voyager spacecraft, possibly to be encountered by aliens, he replied, ‘I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach.’ And then he added, ‘But that would be boasting.’ Why does Bach attract so much attention? Why do so many musicians from all walks of musical life revere his music? How did he transcend his parochial limitations to become a universal figure, the mother-ship of harmony, the all-time master of counterpoint, at once the most cerebral, the most emotional and the most spiritual of composers? It’s been a while since we’ve focused upon our namesake. It’s not that we’ve forgotten him! It’s just that other projects about which we are also passionate—not to mention the pandemic—have intervened. And so we now joyfully embark upon an entire season devoted to J.S. Bach and his milieu. We’ll perform a broad selection of his works, of course; but we’ll also explore the works of those who influenced him, we’ll delve into archives of music by others which we know he studied and performed, and we’ll seek in various ways to illuminate the world in which he lived and his special place therein. We begin with a look at the international Bach: since he did not travel from Germany to other countries in Europe, how did he stay so up-to-date on styles and developments afar? In our Opening Recital, AgAve will examine the influence of French and Italian trends upon Bach’s music. In November, we turn to the incredible music of Bach’s forebears and others who influenced his development. We wrap up 2022 with our 9th Early Music Christmas, featuring four festive cantatas from Bach’s first years in Leipzig which collectively recount and celebrate the Christmas story. In the new year, we’ll feature a treasure trove of chorale preludes for the organ; a profound profusion of works for the keyboard; a striking selection of a cappella music from Bach’s personal library and from the Leipzig archives; a set of early cantatas, brash and mercurial and thrilling. And we’ll wrap up our season with Bach Through the Years, a selection of great works from the epochs of Bach’s life, including the Magnificat and a late cantata drawing upon movements from the Mass in B Minor. Wrapped in among our eight concert sets, we’ll fill in the picture by presenting a number of illuminating Bach Talks, dives into diverse aspects of Bach’s life and career and into many of his works which we haven’t been able to fit into the overflowing cup of our season. Come join us in 2022-2023 as we adventure through Bach’s World! —Robert Worth, music director
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This week's Choir Loft podcast: Bach's Lutheran Masses host: Dan Solter