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Bach The Newsletter of t April 2009 Artistic Director Ralph Nelson Accompanist John Vergin Board of Directors President Ralph Nelson Secretary Maureen Diamond Treasurer Julie Beck Members at Large Barbara Lance Susan Nelson Woody Richen Lorin Wilkerson The Bach Cantata Choir is a legally organized non- profit corporation under Oregon law and is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation with the IRS. Donations to the choir are fully deductible for income tax purposes. Newsletter Editors Lorin Wilkerson [email protected] Wayne Carlon Layout & Photography Kristin Sterling The BachBeat newsletter is published cyclically by the Bach Cantata Choir. www.bachcantatachoir.org Mend the B By After the musical tastes Classical style, favor. By 1 delssohn was Bach’s sons C Wilhelm Fried that of their extent to w music was g discovered” i teenth century subject of m Certainly his method had no favor and keyb were still preludes and and Fanny M music educat traced directly master—their Zelter had st man who had second son o educated the Bachian count scores of sever come by at tha J.S. Bach’s mu obscure: “the than general music was am compositional hBeat the Bach Cantata Choir delssohn and Bach Revival Katherine Lefever * death of J.S. Bach, as new favored the gallant, tuneful his compositions fell out of 1809, the year Felix Men- s born, the reputation of Carl Philipp Emanuel and demann had overshadowed father. The which Bach’s genuinely “re- in the nine- y has been a much debate. s pedagogical ot fallen out of board students assigned his fugues. Felix Mendelssohn’s tion can be y back to the teacher Carl Friedrich tudied composition with a d studied with C.P.E. Bach, of the elder Bach. 1 Zelter young Mendelssohns in terpoint and exposed them ral Bach cantatas, difficult to at time. 2 To the romantics, usic was not unknown, but object of esoteric rather interest.” 3 Bach’s choral mong the least known of his output and Mendelssohn’s historic perform Passion (1727) w composer’s death In post-rev arts patronage t Haydn and Mo gone. Althoug monarchy, aristo had less wealth before. The ri created a new allowing them to of their choice key for com patr mea and wer and was hom cho org Sing dels St. Matthew P organization. By completed his f famous incidenta Night’s Dream. W musical prodigy, reputation as a the place he wa predominant vie antiquated, choo works of the long odd choice for a on a career as a co Vol.2, No.4 mance of the Matthäus was the first since the h in 1750. volutionary Europe, the that had offered Bach, ozart such security was gh Prussia remained a ocratic German families and influence than ever ise of the middle class market for composers, o specialize in a medium e (song for Schubert, yboard music for Chopin, example), rather than mpose at the will of their ron. Mass production ant that both sheet music d musical instruments re more widely available d amateur performance s on the rise, both in the me and in newly founded oral and orchestral ganizations. The Berlin gakademie that Men- ssohn conducted in the Passion was one such y 1829 Mendelssohn had first symphony and his al music to A Midsummer While widely known as a he had yet to establish a conductor. Given both as in his career and the ew of Bach’s music as osing to promote the g dead composer was “an a young man embarking omposer.” 4
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Page 1: BachBeat - About Us · 2019. 10. 22. · teenager; after being exposed to the Well-Tempered Clavier on the radio and hearing a brass rendition of the well-known chorale from Jesu,

BachBeatThe Newsletter of the Bach Cantata Choir

April 2009

Artistic DirectorRalph Nelson

AccompanistJohn Vergin

Board of DirectorsPresidentRalph Nelson

SecretaryMaureen Diamond

TreasurerJulie Beck

Members at LargeBarbara LanceSusan NelsonWoody RichenLorin Wilkerson

The Bach Cantata Choir isa legally organized non-profit corporation underOregon law and is aregistered 501(c)(3)corporation with the IRS.Donations to the choir arefully deductible for incometax purposes.

NewsletterEditorsLorin [email protected]

Wayne Carlon

Layout & PhotographyKristin Sterling

The BachBeat newsletteris published cyclically bythe Bach Cantata Choir.

www.bachcantatachoir.org

Mendelssohn andthe Bach Revival

By

After the death of J.S. Bach, as newmusical tastes favored the gallant, tunefulClassical style, his compositions fell out offavor. By 1809, the year Felix Mendelssohn was born, the reputation ofBach’s sons Carl Philipp Emanuel andWilhelm Friedemann had overshadowedthat of their father. Theextent to which Bach’smusic was genuinely “rediscovered” in the nineteenth century has been asubject of much debate.Certainly his pedagogicalmethod had not fallen out offavor and keyboard studentswere still assigned hispreludes and fugues. Felixand Fanny Mendelssohn’smusic education can betraced directly back to themaster—their teacher Carl FriedrichZelter had studiman who had studied with C.P.E. Bach,second son of the elder Bach.educated the young Mendelssohns inBachian counterpoint and exposed themscores of several Bach cantatas, difficult tocome by at that time.J.S. Bach’s music was not unknown, butobscure: “the object of esoteric ratherthan general interest.”music was among the least known of hiscompositional output and Mendelssohn’s

BachBeatThe Newsletter of the Bach Cantata Choir

Mendelssohn andthe Bach Revival

By Katherine Lefever*

After the death of J.S. Bach, as newmusical tastes favored the gallant, tunefulClassical style, his compositions fell out offavor. By 1809, the year Felix Men-

was born, the reputation ofBach’s sons Carl Philipp Emanuel andWilhelm Friedemann had overshadowedthat of their father. Theextent to which Bach’smusic was genuinely “re-discovered” in the nine-teenth century has been asubject of much debate.

nly his pedagogicalmethod had not fallen out offavor and keyboard studentswere still assigned hispreludes and fugues. Felixand Fanny Mendelssohn’smusic education can betraced directly back to the

their teacher Carl FriedrichZelter had studied composition with aman who had studied with C.P.E. Bach,second son of the elder Bach.1 Zeltereducated the young Mendelssohns inBachian counterpoint and exposed themscores of several Bach cantatas, difficult tocome by at that time.2 To the romantics,J.S. Bach’s music was not unknown, butobscure: “the object of esoteric ratherthan general interest.” 3 Bach’s choralmusic was among the least known of hiscompositional output and Mendelssohn’s

historic performance of thePassion (1727) was the first since thecomposer’s death in 1750.

In post-revolutionaryarts patronage that had offered Bach,Haydn and Mozart such security wasgone. Although Prussia remained amonarchy, aristocratic German familieshad less wealth and influbefore. The rise of the middle classcreated a new market for composers,allowing them to specialize in a mediumof their choice (song for Schubert,

keyboard music for Chopin,for example), rather thancompose at the will of theirpatron.meant that both sheet musicand musical instrumentswere more widely availableand amateur performancewas on the rise, both in thehome and in newly foundedchoral and orchestralorganizations. TheSingakademiedelssohn co

St. Matthew Passionorganization. By 1829 Mendelssohn hadcompleted his first symphony and hisfamous incidental music toNight’s Dream. While widely known as amusical prodigy, he had yet to establish areputation as a conductor. Given boththe place he was in his career and thepredominant view of Bach’s music asantiquated, choosing to promote theworks of the long dead composer was “anodd choice for a young man embarkingon a career as a composer.”

Vol.2, No.4

historic performance of the Matthäuswas the first since the

composer’s death in 1750.

revolutionary Europe, thearts patronage that had offered Bach,Haydn and Mozart such security wasgone. Although Prussia remained amonarchy, aristocratic German familieshad less wealth and influence than everbefore. The rise of the middle classcreated a new market for composers,allowing them to specialize in a mediumof their choice (song for Schubert,

keyboard music for Chopin,for example), rather thancompose at the will of theirpatron. Mass productionmeant that both sheet musicand musical instrumentswere more widely availableand amateur performancewas on the rise, both in thehome and in newly foundedchoral and orchestralorganizations. The BerlinSingakademie that Men-delssohn conducted in the

St. Matthew Passion was one suchorganization. By 1829 Mendelssohn hadcompleted his first symphony and hisfamous incidental music to A Midsummer

. While widely known as amusical prodigy, he had yet to establish a

as a conductor. Given boththe place he was in his career and thepredominant view of Bach’s music asantiquated, choosing to promote theworks of the long dead composer was “anodd choice for a young man embarkingon a career as a composer.”4

Page 2: BachBeat - About Us · 2019. 10. 22. · teenager; after being exposed to the Well-Tempered Clavier on the radio and hearing a brass rendition of the well-known chorale from Jesu,

Member Spotlight

Lorin Wilkerson – Bass

Lorin Wilkerson has been a musician as long as he canremember; he began learning piano informally from hisfather at age 5, and sang in church from childhoodthrough his early twenties. He graduated from PortlandState with a degree in Russian Language and Literature,and studied music in college for years. In addition topiano and voice, he plays a number of instrumentsincluding early claviers, harmonica and mandolin, andwas once timpanist/principal percussionist with theCentral Oregon Symphony under Dr. Charles Heiden.He very recently began studying the viola da gamba withDouglas Laing, and is currently working on trying to nomake the instrument moo like a cow.

Lorin joined the BCC in February 2007 and its board thefollowing season. In addition to singing bassBCC, he sings baritone with the Portland SymphonicChoir and occasionally plays harpsichord forperformances with those musical hooligans of ClassicalRevolution Portland (or CRPDXers, as they are morecommonly known.)

Lorin also loves writing about his two main passions inlife: music and craft beer. Lorin writes for and editsBachBeat, he is active as a critic with Northwest Reverba blog covering classical music in the Pacific Northwest,he maintains his own (unfortunately too-rarely updated)blog, Musical Oozings, and he writes about beer andmusic for Primer online magazine.

Lorin first began to truly love the music of J.S. Bach as ateenager; after being exposed to the Well-TemperedClavier on the radio and hearing a brass rendition of thewell-known chorale from Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,was sure that J.S. Bach must have been the greatestmusician who ever lived, and nothing that has transpiredin Lorin’s life since has convinced him otherwise.

Member Spotlight

Lorin Wilkerson has been a musician as long as he canremember; he began learning piano informally from his

in church from childhoodthrough his early twenties. He graduated from PortlandState with a degree in Russian Language and Literature,and studied music in college for years. In addition topiano and voice, he plays a number of instruments

rly claviers, harmonica and mandolin, andwas once timpanist/principal percussionist with theCentral Oregon Symphony under Dr. Charles Heiden.He very recently began studying the viola da gamba withDouglas Laing, and is currently working on trying to not

Lorin joined the BCC in February 2007 and its board thesinging bass with the

ne with the Portland Symphonichoir and occasionally plays harpsichord for

s with those musical hooligans of ClassicalRevolution Portland (or CRPDXers, as they are more

Lorin also loves writing about his two main passions inLorin writes for and edits

Northwest Reverb,a blog covering classical music in the Pacific Northwest,

rarely updated)about beer and

e the music of J.S. Bach as aTempered

on the radio and hearing a brass rendition of theJesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, he

was sure that J.S. Bach must have been the greatestwho ever lived, and nothing that has transpired

in Lorin’s life since has convinced him otherwise.

Yet Mendelssohn’s revival came at ansecuring Bach’s position as a national treasure. Nationalistsentiment was on the rise and 1830 was theanniversary of the Augsburg Confession and the foundingof Lutheranism. There was an increased interest inpreserving and celebrating great German works, ofcodifying a musical canon much like what Goethe andothers had done for German literature inthe nineteenth century. What is now seen as a majorhistorical revival began as a small gathering of aboutsixteen reading through the St. Matthew PassionMendelssohn home.5 Felix and his friend, the actorEduard Devrient began to talk seriously about aperformance some time late in 1828. In his memoirs,Devrient writes about the morning he roused thecomposer and the two of them went to inform Zelter oftheir plan. 6

The extent of Zelter’s role in the revival has been acontroversial issue for music historians. After Mendelssohn’s death, there were some who argued that Zelterhad more involvement behind the scenes than he hadpreviously received credit for. After all, Mendelssohnwould never have been exposed to Bach’s choralhad it not been for his teacher, and the score Felix usedhad been prepared by Zelter from Bach’s originalperforming parts. 7 But it was not Zelter who spearheaded the revival, despite his genuine enthusiasm forBach—indeed, he seems to have beenof performing the St. Matthew Passionthat the piece would not be appreciated or understood, orthat it was too long and too difficult for an amateur grouplike the Singakademie to pull off. Ultimately, rather thanthe master it was two indefatigable youngsters thatrestored Bach to prominence.

Once Zelter had given his consent, the hall wasreserved and formal rehearsals commenced. Both thechoir and orchestra were predominantly comprised ofamateur musicians. Mendelssohn conducted from thepiano and Devrient sang the role of Christ. Significantcuts were made to the work, removing ten arias andalmost half of the choruses.8 Various explanations havebeen offered for Mendelssohn’s choicesargued he deliberately excluded texts that couldinterpreted as anti-Semitic, others that the parts heomitted were musically redundant. It seems likely thatmany of these cuts were practical: theclocks in at well over three hours when presentedentirety.

In stark contrast to its premiere as part of a GoodFriday church service, on March 11, 1829 thePassion was performed to a sold out hall. Many wereturned away at the door. Among those in attendance werethe poet Heine, the philosopher Hegel, and possiblyPaganini. Fanny wrote that “the most solemn reverence

Yet Mendelssohn’s revival came at an ideal time forsecuring Bach’s position as a national treasure. Nationalistsentiment was on the rise and 1830 was the 300th

anniversary of the Augsburg Confession and the foundingof Lutheranism. There was an increased interest inpreserving and celebrating great German works, ofcodifying a musical canon much like what Goethe and

literature in the early part ofthe nineteenth century. What is now seen as a majorhistorical revival began as a small gathering of about

St. Matthew Passion at theFelix and his friend, the actor

to talk seriously about aperformance some time late in 1828. In his memoirs,Devrient writes about the morning he roused thecomposer and the two of them went to inform Zelter of

The extent of Zelter’s role in the revival has been aersial issue for music historians. After Men-

delssohn’s death, there were some who argued that Zelterhad more involvement behind the scenes than he hadpreviously received credit for. After all, Mendelssohnwould never have been exposed to Bach’s choral musichad it not been for his teacher, and the score Felix usedhad been prepared by Zelter from Bach’s original

But it was not Zelter who spear-headed the revival, despite his genuine enthusiasm for

indeed, he seems to have been opposed to the ideaSt. Matthew Passion, perhaps believing

that the piece would not be appreciated or understood, orthat it was too long and too difficult for an amateur group

to pull off. Ultimately, rather thanthe master it was two indefatigable youngsters that

Once Zelter had given his consent, the hall wasreserved and formal rehearsals commenced. Both thechoir and orchestra were predominantly comprised of

delssohn conducted from thepiano and Devrient sang the role of Christ. Significantcuts were made to the work, removing ten arias and

Various explanations havebeen offered for Mendelssohn’s choices—some have

rately excluded texts that could beSemitic, others that the parts he

omitted were musically redundant. It seems likely thatmany of these cuts were practical: the St. Matthew Passionclocks in at well over three hours when presented in its

In stark contrast to its premiere as part of a GoodFriday church service, on March 11, 1829 the St. Matthew

was performed to a sold out hall. Many wereturned away at the door. Among those in attendance were

philosopher Hegel, and possiblyPaganini. Fanny wrote that “the most solemn reverence

Page 3: BachBeat - About Us · 2019. 10. 22. · teenager; after being exposed to the Well-Tempered Clavier on the radio and hearing a brass rendition of the well-known chorale from Jesu,

seized the gathering” and that the feeling in the concerthall was one of both devotion and awe that this gloriousmusic could have come “from old Bach.”9 With oneperformance at the tender age of twenty, Mendelssohnhad established his reputation not only as a conductor, butas a leading figure in the historical revival movement.10

The performance is still considered to be one of the mostsignificant concerts in the history of German music. ♪ * Katherine Lefever is a graduate of Reed College where shestudied music history, vocal performance and foreign languages.While her area of interest is primarily the romantic and earlymodern periods, she has always loved performing and studyingbaroque music.

Katherine sings with the Portland Symphonic Choir and works inthe Membership Department at All Classical FM.

1 Mercer-Taylor, Peter. The Life of Mendelssohn. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2000, p 34. Fasch was the founder ofthe Berlin Singakademie.2 Applegate, Celia. Bach in Berlin. Ithaca: Cornell University Press,2005, p. 204.3 Applegate, p. 14.4 Applegate, p. 19.5 Todd, R. Larry. Mendelssohn: A Life in Music. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2003, p. 193.6 Todd, p. 194.7 Mercer-Taylor, p. 74.8 Todd, p. 196.9 Fanny Mendelssohn quoted in Applegate, pp. 34 and 41.10 Mercer-Taylor, p. 75.

William Billings (1746–1800)By Lorin Wilkerson – Bass

William Billings was a prototypical ‘do-it-yourselfAmerican original.’ He was a unique man both physicallyand from a personality standpoint: he was blind in oneeye and had limited use of his arms and legs, and was well-known for his addiction to copious amounts of snuff. Hewas not known for his humility: Billings singlehandedly setout to re-make the landscape of Americanchoral music without any formal musicaltraining, and once said that there wasnothing connected with the science ofmusic that he had not mastered.

Initially a tanner by trade, he re-portedly grew exasperated with the stodgypsalmody of the Boston Congregationalistchurches he attended, and at an early agebegan composing and teaching singing.Entirely self-taught, he eschewed formalmusical training (for himself) and learnedwhat he knew through singing and studyingworks from various British and colonialschools of singing. He jotted down notesand rough sketches of his works on thewalls and hides in the tannery where heworked.

He soon opened a music shop and turned full-time tocomposition and vocal pedagogy, and in 1770 hepublished The New England Psalm Singer, the first volume inhistory entirely devoted to songs by an American choralcomposer. Billings was known for patriotic sentiment:his good friend Paul Revere engraved the frontispiece forthe Psalm Singer, and Samuel Adams sang for many years inone of Billings’ choirs. Billings would go on to publishseveral more seminal compilations of hymns, psalms and

‘fuguing tunes,’ (songs written in simplistic imitativepolyphony) culminating in The Continental Harmony in 1794.

Billings’ go-it-alone attitude and the cultural isolationof the American colonies from European trends led to thedevelopment of a (sometimes intentionally) primitive styleof composition: stark, open harmonies and sharp

rhythmic punctuations were a hallmark ofhis work. His hymn ‘Chester’ (beginning:‘Let tyrants shake their iron rod’) wasbeloved by Continental soldiers during theRevolutionary War. Although his songswere extremely well-known, the poor stateof copyright law in the colonies and later inthe young nation assured that despite thepopularity of his work, Billings died apauper, having earned hardly a penny fromhis voluminous compositional output.

His legacy has endured in many ways.Tunes from The New England Psalm Singersoon made their way south and west, andformed an important part of the rudimentsof shape-note singing of the rural Americansouth. Even though his style was

outmoded soon after his death, Billings’ hymns alsoendured long in the churches of rural New England. TheOld Stoughton Musical Society in Stoughton, MA, wasfounded by Billings in 1774, and has continueduninterrupted to this day. It is the oldest musical societyand first singing school in American history. Billings wasinducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. ♪

Principal Sources: Wikipedia.org, answers.com, Songwriters Hall ofFame.

Page 4: BachBeat - About Us · 2019. 10. 22. · teenager; after being exposed to the Well-Tempered Clavier on the radio and hearing a brass rendition of the well-known chorale from Jesu,

Elise Groves (soprano), Elizabeth Farquhar (alto), Mark Woodward (tenor), and UweHaefker (bass) perform Cantata #131 Aus der Tiefen rufe ich,

Be a Concert SponsorYou may wonder “How well is that free

approach working?”

Pretty well—we have consistently covered ourexpenses—but we could use more sponsors. A sponsoris an individual or group who donates $1000 for aconcert. Sponsors are can be recognized on the frontpage of the program and they may make a dedication.

The $1000 covers about 20% of the cost ofconcert, with other costs covered by contributions fromthe choir members, audience free-will offeringsconcert and general fundraising.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact usthrough our website: www.bachcantatachoir.org

BACH CANTATA CHOIR3570 NE MATHISON PLACEPORTLAND OR 97212

www.bachcantatachoir.org

Don’t miss ourfinal concertof the season!

Sunday, April 26 at 2:00 pm

Photo Gallery

(soprano), Elizabeth Farquhar (alto), Mark Woodward (tenor), and UweAus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, su dir

Paul Pitken, oboe soloist

Be a Concert SponsorYou may wonder “How well is that free-concert-

we have consistently covered ourbut we could use more sponsors. A sponsor

is an individual or group who donates $1000 for aconcert. Sponsors are can be recognized on the frontpage of the program and they may make a dedication.

The $1000 covers about 20% of the cost of aconcert, with other costs covered by contributions from

will offerings at each

more, please contact uswww.bachcantatachoir.org.

Thanks for a Great SeasonOur final concert of the 2008

Sunday, April 26, featuring works from Mendelssohn,Billings, and of course, our beloved

Announcements regarding our 2009be mailed this summer and posted on our website:www.bachcantatachoir.org.

All Bach Cantata Choir concerts are held at theRose City Park Presbyterian Church, located in theHollywood district at 1907 NE 45th Avenue, Portland,Oregon (corner of NE Sandy Boulevard and NE 45thAvenue). Concerts are free (freeunless advertised otherwise.

Paul Pitken, oboe soloist

for a Great SeasonOur final concert of the 2008-09 season will be

Sunday, April 26, featuring works from Mendelssohn,our beloved J.S. Bach.

ing our 2009-10 season willbe mailed this summer and posted on our website:

All Bach Cantata Choir concerts are held at theRose City Park Presbyterian Church, located in theHollywood district at 1907 NE 45th Avenue, Portland,

regon (corner of NE Sandy Boulevard and NE 45thAvenue). Concerts are free (free-will offering accepted)


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