Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
  Vol. 26                                        ONLINE  ONLINE  ONLINE                                       August 2017    
Providing financial support   since 1999 for The Rockbridge Choral Society and The Rockbridge Youth Chorale

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August Birthdays in Music

Francis Scott-Key        8/1/1779

Gene Kelly            8/23/1912
Charlie 'Bird' Parker        8/29/1920
Mark Your Calendars

Rockbridge Choral Society Rehearsals Begin


Monday September 11, 7:15, Lexington Presbyterian Church

December 2, 2017 - Holiday Concert,
RCS and Rockbridge
Youth Chorale,
7 PM
Presbyterian Church

January 28, 2018 - Rockbridge Chamber Singers presents
Songs of Love,
3 PM

Presbyterian Church

April 29, 2018 - RCS with
orchestra and soloists,
Mass in B Minor,
J. S. Bach

7 PM,
Wilson Concert Hall, Washington and Lee University

Coming in 2018
     The Mass in B minor is as lofty in design, scope
and expression as anything written by the hand of man.  It's one of several instances in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in which a piece is created as an ideal type, rather than crafted for a practical use. It represents an attempt to summarize the tradition of the mass in a single perfect specimen, and it leaves a statement on the nature of sacred music as a bequest to the future.
    Most of the work's component parts date from various times in Bach's long residence in Leipzig. Only near the end of Bach's life were the pieces assembled
to form a complete mass. The earliest section is the Sanctus, from 1724. The Kyrie and Gloria are taken from a 1733 mass that Bach dedicated to the electoral court of Saxony at Dresden. The last major addition was the Credo, the keystone to the whole structure, written in 1748-49.  Bach never heard the work in its entirety.
    The Rockbridge Choral Society with orchestra and soloists will perform Johann Sebastian Bach's monu-mental Mass in B Minor to cap off the 2017/2018 season on April 29, 2018.  We hope Bach will be listening.
Bach, the Working Composer
    Bach was a court composer.  After unsuccessfully campaigning for the job in part by submitting sections of the B Minor Mass as part of his application, it was several years later that he finally landed the position in Leipzig.  We probably think of Bach during this period as the romanticized grand giver of music, working quietly to churn out such works as the St John and St Matthew Passions, the Goldberg Variations, and the B Minor Mass.  The reality was much more mundane.  
    A day in the life of a court composer was more like that of a factory worker.  Bach would have been like a school master to the boarding school choristers in his charge; they lived in dorms adjacent to his private quarters.  He would have given daily classes, lessons and rehearsals.  Each week he would compose the cantata for the Sunday service, usually a work of 30 to 35 minutes in length.  He would see to the copying of the composition so that all would be ready for the one rehearsal on the Saturday before.  During the week's preparations, he would likely have taken additional rehearsals and tutorials for soloists as w
ell.  If all that were not enough, he had the additional responsibility of assessing and writing recommendations for organs throughout the Saxony district.  He supervised a harpsichord hiring system and published his own compositions and those of other musicians.  Bach was   a working musician in every sense of the term.
One Fun Thing
       In one of his compositions, Bach, who was then 18 and in his first job, had written a 'little obbligato' for the bassoon.  The part was difficult, the bassoonist botched it, and Bach swore at him.  As Bach walked home from the castle at day's end, the bassoonist and his 'gang' were lying in wait with knives and cudgels.  Bach, not to be outdone, drew his sword and a fight ensued. The great J. S. Bach - composer and swordsman!  Who knew?
Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
Rockbridge Choral Society
PO Box 965
Lexington, VA 24450