CHAMPAIGN — To commemorate the passing of its namesake, Johann Sebastian Bach, who died July 28, 1750, the chorus of the Baroque Artists of Champaign Urbana will present a choral concert at 7:30 p.m. next Sunday at the Chapel of St. John the Divine, 1101 S. Wright St., C.
Part of a continuing series of concerts called "Bach and Beyond," the BACH chorus will stretch the limits of its usual baroque repertoire to sing pieces by more modern composers: Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Benjamin Britten and Eric Whitacre.
The concert will open with the motet ("Sei nun wieder zufrieden") extracted from Bach's cantata "Ich hatte viel Bekmmernis," BWV 21, in which he intertwines imitative musical statements of the principal text to create an accompaniment for two verses of the Lutheran chorale, "Wer nur den lieben Gott lsst walten."
The chorus will move on to Brahms (1833-97), a composer who admired the choral music of Bach, in his three German part songs for six-part chorus (Op. 42), in which he sets poems by Clemens Brentano, Wilhelm Mller and Ossian, a Gaelic warrior turned bard.
To recognize another anniversary — the centenary of the birth of Britten (1913-76) — the BACH chorus will sing his festival cantata, "Rejoice in the Lamb" (Op. 30), written to fulfill a commission from the Rev. Walter Hussey, who would later commission Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms".
In this piece, Britten selected assorted verses from the sprawling poem "Jubilate Agno" ("Rejoice in the Lamb") by Christopher Smart during his stay at the Bedlam asylum.
Britten's text draws together many of the poet's depictions of the manifold ways in which one might praise the creator.
The performance will feature organist Scott Montgomery, soprano Katherine Buzard, counter-tenor Christopher Holman, tenor Stephen Boyer and bass Donald Armstrong.
Next up will be a popular choral work of the Russian repertory, the "All-Night Vigil" (Vespers), op. 37, by Rachmaninoff (1873-1943).
The chorus will sing in Russian three of the 15 movements: the "Introit" ("Come, Let Us Worship God, our King"); a compilation of verses from Psalms 1-2, "Blessed is the Man"; and an "Ave Maria," which is the most beloved and frequently performed of the entire work.
American composer Whitacre (born in 1970) has attained near rock star status among choirs that treasure his music.
Whitacre sets an evocative text by frequent collaborator Charles Anthony Silvestri, "Leonardo dreams of his flying machine." In it, Silvestri describes the famous Italian painter/architect/inventor's fascination with creating a machine that would allow a man to fly.
Whitacre responds to Silvestri's text with music that, while strikingly contemporary, features allusions to the music of the famed Italian composer of opera and madrigals, Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643).
The entire second half of the work, titled "The Flight," evokes the sounds and experiences of soaring like the birds through the air of the Tuscan landscape.
Tickets for the BACH concert are $10 by cash or checks and will be available at the door or in advance at http://www.baroqueartists.org.