December 9th 2021

Celebrate, Rejoice, Rise up

Thus Bach exhorts the listener to greet the Christ child in the opening chorus of the Christmas Oratorio,  Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage.

Bach composed the six-part “Christmas Oratorio” (“Weihnachts Oratorium”) in 1734 for two Leipzig churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, for which he served as music director.

Each part is a cantata for one of six feast days within the 12 days of the Christmas season:

The story begins with the birth of Jesus (for Christmas Day). The second and third parts feature the shepherds (for December 26 and 27). The fourth part describes the naming and circumcision of Jesus (for New Year’s Day). The fifth and sixth parts describe the Three Kings, or Magi (for the first Sunday after New Year and for Epiphany).

The lecturer on this occasion is Sandy Burnett.

He explores Christmas in Bach’s Leipzig: the Christmas Oratorio of 1734/5

Music Director for the RSC, he spent a decade as one of the core team of presenters on BBC Radio 3. He is a highly sought after double bassist on the London Jazz Scene.

Sandy Burnett’s close relationship with Bach’s music stretches back for decades; between 1997 and 2010 he directed a complete cycle of Bach’s sacred cantatas in West London. In this illustrated talk he explores how Bach brings the Christmas story alive in his Weihnachtsoratorium or Christmas Oratorio, written for Lutheran congregations in 1730s Leipzig. Starting with an overview of Bach’s life and achievement, Sandy moves on to an examination of this magnificent work which draws on various forms ranging from recitative, arioso, aria, chorale, and instrumental sinfonia through to full-blown choruses which harness the power of music and deploy it in the service of God.

This lecture will be presented in the Matthews hall at 10 45 a.m. on December 9th 2021