300th Anniversary Celebration and
Performance of J.S. Bach’s
St. John Passion
During the 2024 conference, participants will have opportunities to Ponder Anew the call to nurture and serve the church’s song today while also considering those ways the people have given musical voice to the gospel throughout the ages. Participants will be invited to examine the work of church music and how, though continually made new, it is grounded in the constancy that is Spirit-driven grace given freely from God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Such tension between novelty and tradition will perhaps be held up most clearly in what is the highlight of the conference at Valparaiso University: a 300th anniversary presentation of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion.
This presentation marries the new and the old and represents the gathering of several different communities of musicians to proclaim the gospel. The core ensemble of our celebration will be an orchestra of period instruments and a vocal ensemble which will be sure to delight the ear. While honoring the historically-informed nature of this performance, ALCM and LSM will join this professional group in singing chorales and choruses of the work, creating a presentation that involves all who are present. Drawing together these three groups of people into one will be a physical and aural representation of the church of the past, present, and future.
To aid in this celebration of this piece of Lutheran heritage, conference registrants may choose to sing in the conference Bach choir, which will join in on the first and last choruses (“Herr, unser Herrscher” and “Ruht woll ihr helige Gebeine”) as well as several chorales throughout. While no auditions are necessary, due to the limited amount of rehearsal time strong singers with some experience singing Bach will likely be the most comfortable participating in this extra part of the conference. Participation is limited to six voices on each part (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) and is available on a first come, first served (or first registered) basis. This option is available on the registration form. Those who sign up will be responsible for purchasing a musical score (~$20) and will receive a pronunciation guide and marked score from the conductor before the conference. During the conference participants will be expected to attend 3-4 rehearsals in advance of the presentation.
At one of the conference plenaries, all participants will have the opportunity to learn several of the chorales and will be invited to sing them during the presentation of the work. LSM students will also prepare parts of the work and will join with the core ensemble.
Bach Collegium Valparaiso
Christopher M. Cock, Artistic Director and Conductor
The Bach Collegium Valparaiso is an ensemble composed of the finest period instrument and vocal forces in the Chicago area. The mission of BCV is to perform the great masterworks of the 16th-18th centuries with attention to historically informed practice and the highest standards of musical performance.
St. John Passion Conductor
At the helm of this multi-ensemble, multi-generational celebration is Christopher Cock, Senior Research Professor in Music at Valparaiso University. As Director of the Bach Institute at Valparaiso from 2001-2022, he led multiple performances of all of Bach’s major works and numerous cantatas. This distinguished conducting experience combined with his critically acclaimed performances as a Bach Evangelist have made him one of America’s foremost experts on the music of J. S. Bach.
This celebration of Bach’s St. John Passion would have been impossible were it not for the generous donation given by Pauline and John Kiltinen. Thank you to Pauline and John and to all who support the church’s song through their work, generosity, and energy.