The Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale presents J.S. Bach’s epic Mass in B minor for two performances in the ethereal setting of the Cathedral of Saint Helena on Sunday, February 24 and Monday, February 25, both at 7:30 p.m. with four renowned soloists: Soprano Rachel Copeland, Mezzo Soprano Alison Taylor Cheeseman, Tenor Jonathan Weyant, and Baritone Peter Kendall Clark.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the organist, harpsichordist, composer, teacher, and stern Lutheran, is today synonymous with music as much or more than any other name in history. Bach, the towering figure of the Baroque era, who summed up the musical knowledge and techniques that preceded him and developed them further, represented his time more than any other – he was the Baroque period’s (1600-1750) most valid embodiment.
While Bach’s fame as an organist was great during his lifetime, he was not particularly well-known as a composer until nearly a century after his death. Bach, the father of twenty children between two marriages (only ten of the children survived infancy), composed over a thousand works before he became increasingly blind and died at the age of sixty-five (ironically, his eyesight returned ten days before his death). Today, Bach is considered one of the greatest composers in all of Western civilization, and scholars fittingly date the end of the Baroque era with the year of Bach’s death.
“J.S. Bach composed one of the supreme achievements in all of music with his epic Mass in B minor,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “For two centuries it remains a spiritual and dramatic summit of human creativity and represents an exquisite balance between what comes from the past and what is most modern, coupled with a career summation of musical technique and spiritual experience.”
There are few works of music, if any, that summarize an entire composer’s career. Bach’s Mass in B minor not only is a compendium of his life as a composer, but it is undoubtedly a pillar in all of music and indeed in all of art. It is fitting that Bach’s Mass serves as the culmination of his entire career as it is a combination and compilation of his music spread over two decades.
“Bach’s Mass goes well beyond the scope or use of a sacred ritual; rather it becomes an attempt to explore humankind’s relationship with the mysteries of something greater,” explains Maestro Scott. “Whatever one’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, Bach’s crowning achievement is nothing short of a monumental testament to the height of human creativity, intellect, and spirituality. Experience this masterpiece with us.”
All seats in the Cathedral are reserved. Tickets can be purchased ($55-$25 plus a $5 transaction fee) online at helenasymphony.org, by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or visiting the Symphony Box Office located on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.