The year has gone very quickly and we already find ourselves at the final Bach Vespers of 2017. On 26 November we will be performing cantata BWV 60, O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, a highly characterful cantata with the figures of Hope, Fear… and the redemptive figure of Christ popping up towards the end to intone the text from Revelation, ‘Blessed are the dead who have died in the Lord’.
BWV 60 is a cantata freighted with importance in more ways than one. The closing chorale – the unusual, whole-tone melody Es ist genug – has assumed greater import through its quotation by Alban Berg in that composer’s violin concerto of 1935. The concerto, dedicated ‘To the memory of an angel’ in reference to the death at 18 years of age of Alma Mahler’s daughter Manon, quotes the chorale in the woodwind in the crystalline denouement of the work, assimilated by the violin before the piece draws to its conclusion.
In addition to the cantata, we will also perform the motet O Jesu Christ, mein’s Lebens Licht BWV 118, thought of as a funeral motet. At this Bach Vespers we in the Collective and the congregation of St Anne’s will remember Trevor Broomhall who, as lector, read the Epistle and Gospel at Bach Vespers until his death earlier in the summer.