– Lloyd Schwartz, Boston Phoenix, June 5, 2012
Boston, MA--The esteemed Boston-based chorus, Chorus pro Musica, under the direction of Dr. Betsy Burleigh, will present "Four Weddings & A Funeral: Music of Mourning & Celebration"
"We flow from Bach’s monumental funeral motet to another, lighter work by Bach, Der Herr denket an uns, to serve as a transition to lighter fare and as the first of our four weddings. To bridge us from Bach to the 20th century, we will add Brahms's Kleine Hochzeits-kantate (a “Little Wedding Cantata” and more like a folksong with piano accompaniment)
Johann Sebastian Bach's "Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227" is the longest, most musically complex and justifiably the most popular of the six funeral motets he wrote for St. Thomas's Church in Leipzig. It was written in 1723 for the funeral of Johanna Maria Käsin, the wife of Leipzig’s postmaster. The chorale melody on which it is based was by Johann Crüger; the German text is by Johann Franck and speaks of Jesus Christ freeing man from sin and death.
Bach's "Der Herr denket an uns" (The Lord is mindful of us), BWV 196 appears to have been written for a special occasion—unusual for a Bach cantata. The words are drawn from Psalm 115, which includes the line "The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children," leading some (notably Philipp Spitta) to believe that the cantata was written for a wedding, possibly Bach's own wedding in 1707 to Maria Barbara Bach.
Composed in July 1874, Brahms's Kleine Hochzeits-kantate (Little Wedding Cantata) for chorus and piano is rarely heard and it was written at the peak of Brahms's compositional powers. Brahms composed this piece in 1874 at the special request of his friend, the famed Swiss poet Gottfried Keller, who wrote the words. The work was commissioned by Keller's close friend Marie Exner for the wedding of her brother Sigmund Exner with Emilie von Winiwarter, whose names Keller worked into his poem. Brahms throughout his life declined invitations to write music for special occasions; this charming "little cantata" is a rare exception to that rule. Unpublished during Brahms's lifetime, the work first appeared in 1927 and has not been often performed.
Composer Daniel Pinkham wrote his popular Wedding Cantata in 1956 for the marriage of his friends Lotje and Arthur Loeb. The texts from the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) are great favorites at weddings and anniversaries. Pinkham invested them with a variety of musical contrasts and moods — sudden, serene, racing, slow, eager, contemplative, longing, intense — all in a 10-minute composition. Love is a strong, complicated, infinitely varied theme.
For his Five Hebrew Love Songs, Eric Whitacre asked his girlfriend to compose "a few postcards" in her native Hebrew. He then set her exquisite and delicate poetry in his characteristic lush, romantic style. The poetry is intimate, each song capturing a moment that the two had shared together. Eric Whitacre has written, "These songs are profoundly personal for me, born entirely out of my new love for this soprano, poet, and now my beautiful wife, Hila Plitmann."
Concert tickets for all this performance at Old South Church are $25, $35 and $45 with discounts available on selected seats for groups, students, seniors and WGBH members. Reserved seats may be selected and tickets purchased at www.choruspromusica.org, or by phone (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) at 800-658-4CPM (800-658-4276)
Chorus pro Musica has just launched a stunning new website! Please take a look at www.choruspromusica.org.
Sunday, March 10, 2013, 3:00 P.M.
Old South Church
645 Boylston Street, Boston
Four Weddings & A Funeral: Music of Mourning & Celebration
Bach: Jesu, meine Freude, BMV 227
Bach: Der Herr denket an uns BWV 196
Brahms: Kleine Hochzeits-kantate
Pinkham: Wedding Cantata
Whitacre: 5 Hebrew Love Songs
Tickets: $25, $35 and $45; www.choruspromusica.org, or 800-658-4CPM (800-658-4276)