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Cantata Singers to Present Bach's B MINOR MASS in February

Cantata Singers continues its 53rd season with two performances of Bach's profound and enduring choral masterpiece, the B Minor Mass. The first performance will be held on Friday, February 24th, 2017 at 8:00pm at NEC's Jordan Hall, and the second on Sunday, February 26th, 2017 at 3:00pm at Cary Hall in Lexington.

One of Bach's last compositions, the Mass is considered a cornerstone of the choral canon. It was not completed until 1749, a year before Bach's death, and was never performed in its entirety during his lifetime. The B Minor Mass is regarded as an unusual composition because of its subject matter. Very rarely did composers of the Lutheran Faith Compose music for a complete Latin mass. One of the distinguishing factors of the Lutheran faith was that church services were conducted in the native tongue, and Bach in particular is known for his expansive collection of German language cantatas, which were performed during church services. Bach's motivations for composing a Mass in Latin are still unclear, and remain a contested subject amongst historians today.

Most of the B Minor Mass was reworked from other music by Bach, including movements from his cantatas; one example is the Crucifixus movement, which pulls from cantata BWV 12, "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen." Starting with music he wrote in 1724, the B Minor Mass is recognized as the summation of Bach's vocal music, representing over 20 years of his career in a single work.

The Mass is comprised of choral movements, soloist arias, and duets. Soloists include Cantata Singers members: soprano Karyl Ryczek; altos Kimberly Leeds, Lynn Torgove, and Jennifer Webb; tenor Eric Christopher Perry; and basses Mark Andrew Cleveland and Dana Whiteside.


Cantata Singers performs Bach's B Minor Mass

Two performances, in Boston and Lexington, of the choral masterpiece

Friday, February 24, 2017 at 8pm

Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 3pm

Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA

Pre-Concert Talks at 7pm and 2pm, free to all ticketholders

Tickets: $25-$69, can be purchased by calling 617-868-5885 or visiting

Cantata Singers is one of four musical organizations presenting Bach's B Minor Mass this season; the other performances presented by Boston Baroque on Oct. 21 and 23, 2016, the Boston Early Music Festival on Nov. 18, 2016, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 2-4 and 7, 2017. In collaboration with 99.5 WCRB, Cantata Singers will be hosting a finish line for Boston's "B Minor Mass Marathon" at four performances. Attendees who have attended two or more performances will receive prizes at the finish line, and those who have attended all four will receive free admission to a WCRB classical music event at the Fraser Performance Studio in Spring 2017. Attendees should post to social media and tag posts with #BachBostonMass to participate.

Dr. Ellen Exner, professor of musicology at New England Conservatory, will give the pre-concert talk at both performances. She is currently a member ex officio of the Advisory Board of the American Bach Society. Her research focuses on musical culture in Berlin during the reign of Frederick the Great of Prussia, and she is currently working on a book that re-examines the eighteenth-century roots of Mendelssohn's 1829 Berlin performance of J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and documenting the importance of the pre-existing Bach tradition in the Prussian capital.

A singular desire to bring to Boston's listeners music that isn't being heard anywhere else has inspired Cantata Singers' programming for 53 years.

In 1964, that music included the cantatas of J.S. Bach. Today, it may be hard for us to believe, but when Cantata Singers was founded in 1964, live performances of Bach cantatas were quite a rarity. In fact, Cantata Singers' early concerts featured the first Boston performances of many of the cantatas.

Bach's music, from the cantatas to the B-minor Mass to the Passions, remains an essential part of Cantata Singers' repertoire. However, the ensemble's repertoire has expanded to include music from the 17th century to today. Cantata Singers has commissioned 14 works for choir and orchestra-including one that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music-and has presented more than fifty Boston premieres of music both old and new.

Many of Boston's most talented musicians perform regularly with Cantata Singers. The chorus is made up of singers who have careers as musicians, educators, doctors, and architects. Many of these members appear as soloists with Cantata Singers, as well as with other highly respected organizations; some conduct other choruses and orchestras in the area. Although many of our musicians perform actively as solo singers, they choose to sing with Cantata Singers because of the reward they find in performing music of the choral canon at the highest possible level.

Cantata Singers has always focused on the music-be it by Bach, Verdi, Harbison, or Pärt-and its audiences do, too. Our audiences return year after year to hear fresh visions of iconic music, or an intriguing unfamiliar work that is-in fact-quite approachable. Each Cantata Singers concert is often surprising, sometimes challenging, always beautiful, and ultimately inspiring.

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