What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Choral Arts Philadelphia, accompanied by the Philadelphia Bach Collegium, present a unique way to ring in the new year Philly style with a rare performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 (“Christmas Oratorio”).
The late afternoon festive concert will be held Saturday, Dec. 31 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 38th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia.
The six-part “Christmas Oratorio” begins at 4 p.m. with Parts I-III, breaks for a one-hour intermission at 5:30 during which patrons may purchase dinner from such food trucks as Wheely Wheely Good (pan-Asian), The Grill Cheese (sandwiches) and All of Sudden Desserts.
The concert resumes at 6:30 with Parts IV-VI until the conclusion at 8 p.m.
Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio,” compiled and premiered in Leipzig during Christmastide 1734, is a natural addition to Choral Arts Philadelphia’s current season performance of all Bach’s surviving works.
The “Oratorio” is a collection of six cantatas, forming one of Bach’s lesser known yet monumental works, which present a narrative of the Christmas story as told in the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Luke and St. John. It ranks along with Bach’s two great Passions compositions, St. John and St. Matthew, in drama, inventiveness and beauty, according to Choral Arts Artistic Director Matthew Glandorf.
It is rarely heard complete, at least in the United States, due to many programming challenges for any musical organization. Since the six cantatas of the “Oratorio” were originally performed one per day, the instrumentation is different for each one of them.
Additionally, the work has particularly virtuosic choral and solo writing, making the piece inaccessible to many choirs.
(Watch Choral Arts Philadelphia perform the opening chorus from J.S. Bach’s Cantata BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele (Jesus, thou who this my spirit:)
“Although it would be a challenge for us trying to perform it every year,” Glandorf said, “I like the idea that it could become a regular piece of repertoire for Choral Arts.”
All solo and duet parts will be sung by the professional core members of Choral Arts, with tenor James Reese as Evangelist. Choral Arts Philadelphia is premier 40-voice chamber chorus consisting of a core of professional singers mixed with highly experienced volunteer members. Philadelphia Bach Collegium is a professional instrumental ensemble of period instruments.
“I find the idea of a New Year’s Eve concert, post-Christmas Day, a lovely way to ‘begin afresh,’” Glandorf said. “It is a real pleasure to offer an event that can defy traditional patterns and find a foothold in our city’s diverse cultural landscape.”
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103