Chorale to welcome the solstice with Bach’s Christmas Oratorio V and VI

Nov. 18 – Celebrate the Solstice with Bach when the New Mexico Bach Chorale comes to Santa Fe and Albuquerque next weekend.

The singers will perform the composer’s famous Christmas Oratorio: Part V, the cantata for the first Sunday of the New Year and Part VI, the cantata for the Epiphany. The Santa Fe concert will take place on Friday, November 25th at the Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and the Albuquerque event will be held on Sunday, November 27 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

Bach wrote the six cantatas to celebrate the entire Christmas festivities of 1734-35, beginning with Part I on Christmas Day and ending with Part VI on Epiphany.

“We’ve done a cycle for the last five seasons,” said Linda Marianiello, executive director of the New Mexico Performing Arts Society.

“Bach originally wrote the six cantatas that became the Christmas Oratorio at different periods in his composer’s life.”

The massive work was not heard in its entirety until 1857, when it was first publicly performed by the Berliner Sing-Akademie. 194 singers and 45 instrumentalists took part in the concert, rehearsing for 16 hours over five days.

Scholars say the nearly 30-year delay may be due to critical 19th-century reception. They perceived the composer’s lighter, simpler and more solemn compositional style as “childlike, naive or folksy” compared to profound works such as the St Matthew Passion.

Added to this was the so-called ‘parody problem’ – the fact that the oratorio was a reworking of earlier secular works and was therefore not truly sacred.

The concerts will feature eight singers, acting as both chorus and soloists, supported by 10 musicians.

Soloists include Jennifer Perez, Camille Tierney, Esther Moses, Patricia Henning, André García-Nuthmann, Jordan Jones, Javier Ortiz and Tim Willson.

The featured musicians are Elizabeth Baker, Natalie Frantz, Gail Robertson, Joel Becktell, Linda Marianiello, Rebecca Ray, Joe Vandiver, Gary Hudson, Ken Dean and Jacquelyn Helin.

NMPAS artistic director Franz Vote conducts.

Winter Solstice Concert

The New Mexico Performing Arts Society, New Mexico Bach Chorale

WHEN/WHERE: Friday, November 25, 5:30 p.m., Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, 50 Mount Carmel Road, Santa Fe; 5:30 p.m. Sunday, November 27, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 601 Montaño Road NW, Albuquerque

HOW MUCH: $20-60 plus fees at nmpas.org/tickets, holdmyticket.com, 877-466-3404

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