Events | Chattanooga Now | Bach Choir -- The Spirit Soars

Bach Choir -- The Spirit Soars

Price: Free - $25


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The Chattanooga Bach Choir
The Chattanooga Bach Choir
David Long
The Chattanooga Bach Choir, David Long, artistic director and conductor, presents The Spirit Soars: A Cappella Sacred Works for Double Choir. The program will be performed twice: on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m., at Christ Church Episcopal, 663 Douglas Street in Chattanooga; and again on Sunday, Nov.18, at 4 p.m., at St. Timothy's Episcopal, 630 Mississippi Avenue on Signal Mountain. Admission is $25; students are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance at or at the door on the day of the concert.

The Spirit Soars features sacred music from the 16th through the 20th centuries, including works by Renaissance and Baroque masters Francisco Guerrero: Duo Seraphim; Gregorio Allegri: Miserere mei Deus; Samuel Scheidt: Surrexit Pastor bonus; Thomas Tomkins: When David Heard; Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium; J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn, BWV 225; as well as Romantic and Contemporary composers Felix Mendelssohn: Heilig and Richte mich, Gott; René Clausen: Simple Gifts; Stephen Leek: Ngana; Paul Mealor: Ubi Caritas; and Eric Whitacre: Her Sacred Spirit Soars. For this program, the Chattanooga Bach Choir is joined by members of the Kinge's Quire, under the direction of Gerald Peel.

David Long, the Bach Choir's artistic director, comments, "The music we are performing on this program, celebrates and explores the wide-ranging literature for multiple choirs including polychoral music, choral music with divided parts, and choral music in canon style. In the words of renowned choral conductor John Rutter, 'For centuries composers have loved to make use of the spatial effects obtainable from placing two or more choirs antiphonally, and some of the most sumptuous and thrilling sounds in choral literature have resulted.' The music featured in our concert approaches polychoral music in different ways. Guerrero's Duo Seraphim uses acoustic spatial effects to inspire visions of stereophonic angels. Scheidt's Surrexit Pastor bonus alternates choirs back and forth maintaining a separation throughout. In contrast, Tallis's Spem in alium, written for 8 choirs of five voices each, builds from one voice to forty with continuous overlapping between entrances creating an almost matched ethereal sound. Bach's Singet dem Herrn, written for two choirs of four parts each, alternates thrilling passages back and forth between the two choirs with the occasional joining of the two in one glorious expression of sound. Contemporary composers are also fascinated with the sonic possibilities of multiple part-writing. In Clausen's lovely arrangement of Simple Gifts, each voice part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) is further subdivided to create a constantly changing texture that also includes moments of improvisation, so that the work is different at every performance. Australian composer Leek's Ngana, a musical depiction of a shark on the great barrier reef, features complex rhythms in canon form with each part repeating the first part until all have finished. Mealor's motet Ubi Caritas sets this Lenten hymn in slow moving close harmonies bringing together ancient and modern sounds that build and recede in intensity. For this concert of magnificent multi-part choral music, the Bach Choir is joined by the Kinge's Quire for the Tallis and Mendelssohn. In addition, this local ensemble specializing in English choral music, directed by Gerald Peel, performs Tomkins moving lament When David Heard. Mr. Peel also conducts Mendelssohn's Richte mich, Gott."

Established in 1985 by conductor James Greasby, the Chattanooga Bach Choir focuses on performing the choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach, in addition to choral-orchestral masterworks of all periods. David Long, artistic director and conductor of the Chattanooga Bach Choir since 2005, has expanded the programs and repertoire to include a yearly series featuring Bach cantatas and performances of a wide range of music from the past to the present. During its thirty-year history, the Bach Choir has performed the works of more than sixty composers from the Renaissance to the present, including Josquin, Telemann, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Fauré, Duruflé, Lauridsen, and Gjeilo.

The Kinge's Quire is a Chattanooga, Tennessee area vocal ensemble that sings music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, as well as modern anthems and motets from the English choral tradition. A multigenerational organization offering opportunity to young singers, the Kinge's Quire is often in demand for seasonal concerts and Evensong services. Gerald Peel is the Music Director of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga. In addition to church music and community choirs, he has served as adjunct professor in local university choral departments.

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