Holland Bach Society presents the composer’s lesser-known sacred music to local audiences

HOLLAND – The Holland Bach Society, a music project led by Scott Vanden Berg, seeks to bring the sacred compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach to more audiences in the Netherlands region.

Bach, widely regarded as one of the greatest composers in history, does not need to be introduced. -Tempered Keyboard and Goldberg Variations for piano.

The Holland Bach Society performs works by JS Bach at the Second Reformed Church in Zeeland.

But Vanden Berg said some of Bach’s greatest music – hundreds of compositions written for church services, many during his time in the employ of a church in Leipzig, Germany – is less well known and less often performed. . About 75 percent of Bach’s music was written for use in worship.

Vanden Berg seeks to change this by performing the composer’s cantatas, which are vocal works with orchestral accompaniment, in local churches with a group of around 30 professional musicians from the region.

The group’s performances are incorporated into the host church’s Sunday worship service, blending the church’s existing worship with elements of early 18th-century liturgical practices.

“Just by nature, these works are designed to be in a church service,” said Vanden Berg. “Maybe when you take them out of a church and into a concert hall, something is lost.

“His cantatas were really related to the Bible stories they were talking about, so they naturally work very well if they follow the scripture readings. In Bach’s day you would have heard the scripture reading, the cantata, and then a sermon on the scripture. same passage They all interact to create a really powerful message.

Bach’s sacred music can be both a musical and theological experience for Christians, said Vanden Berg, bringing them back to Christian worship from another era to learn how their predecessors worshiped and how they viewed their God.

Director Scott Vanden Berg rehearses with the Holland Bach Society ahead of their inaugural performances this month.

Director Scott Vanden Berg rehearses with the Holland Bach Society ahead of their inaugural performances this month.

Upcoming performances will be at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, November 21 at Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church, 14 W. 14th St., The Netherlands, and at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 21 at Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church. , 259 Central Ave. ., Holland. Everyone is welcome.

Kristin Goodyke is the director of operations for the Holland Bach Society, assistant to Vanden Berg, who is also director of instrumental music at Holland Christian High School, for administrative purposes. Goodyke is organist and co-director of music at Second Reformed Church in Zeeland, where the band first performed on November 14.

Many musicians come from the Holland Symphony Orchestra and the Holland Chorale. Eric Reyes, professor at Hope College, loaned the Society a harpsichord for performances.

Bach composed around 300 cantatas, composing one per week for his church in Leipzig. About 200 survive today – so the Holland Bach Society has plenty of material for future performances.

The group will assess the success of its inaugural performance this month, its funding opportunities and decide what to do next. Vanden Berg hopes that churches and donors are interested in supporting the Society in at least annual performances of Bach’s works.

“We want to highlight what I believe to be extraordinary music that was linked to worship and a community of faith and to highlight both music and theology through the works of Bach. That would be our goal.”

Learn more about hollandbachsociety.org.

– Contact journalist Carolyn Muyskens at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Holland Bach Society presents Bach’s sacred music to new audiences

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