Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11

Posted on May 1, 2017 in Happenings, Music | 0 comments

Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11

Bach Cantata Vesper on Sunday, May 21st at 5:00 pm.

This final Bach Vesper of the 2016-17 season will feature the festive Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11 with full orchestra of three trumpets, two oboes, two flutes, and strings joining St. James Bach choir, and soloists Catherine Van der Salm (soprano); Laura Thoreson (alto); Les Green (tenor); and Kevin Walsh (bass).  The Ascension Oratorio appeared in the same liturgical year as the Christmas Oratorio.  The text for the Ascension Oratorio, a compilation of several biblical sources, free poetry and chorales, was presumably written by Picander, who had written the libretti for the St. Matthew Passion and the Christmas Oratorio, among others.  It follows the story of the Ascension as told in Luke, Mark and the Acts of the Apostles.  The biblical words are narrated by the tenor as the Evangelist.  In the third recitative two men are quoted, for this quotation tenor and bass both sing in an Arioso.  Part I, which tells of the Ascension, is concluded by the fourth stanza of Johann Rist’s hymn “Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ” in a four-part setting.  Part II reflects the reaction of the disciples.  The closing chorale on the seventh stanza of Gottfried Wilhelm Sacer’s “Gott fähret auf gen Himmel” is set as a chorale fantasia.  While the music for the narration and the first chorale were new compositions in 1735, Bach based the framing choral movements and the two arias on earlier compositions. He used the model for the alto aria again much later for the Agnus Dei of his Mass in B minor.

Also to be sung is the motet “Go Into All the World” by Richard Hillert, commissioned for the Bach Vespers in 2007 by Bob and Gerry Grover in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.  Dr. Walter Krueger of Concordia University will be the guest organist.

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