Whenever people think of Bach, certain things come to mind right away. Great works of sacred music, powdered wigs and Leipzig. Well, after a tour in Köthen, we found that Bach was all that AND a bag of chips. Before moving to Leipzig, Bach spent six years in Köthen writing secular music for the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. It’s kind of amazing to think that as soon as Bach moved to Leipzig he completely switched tracks and started writing music for the church after a long stint writing music for a royal court. Our tour guide, who was extremely proud of his hometown, defended Köthen as an important segment of Bach’s life, despite the fame he found in Leipzig. (He also told us that Bach probably did not always wear a white powdered wig, but in fact wore a short brown wig. Knowledge is power, you know.)
Anyhow, our tour was pretty informative. We walked through the schloss of Prince Leopold, which has been converted into a museum with a lot of artifacts from Bach’s time. We also got to see the church of St. Agnes, where the highlights included an original painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger. The painting featured the Last Supper, with the disciples played by important figures in history such as Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon and various government officials. As an art history geek, I particularly enjoyed this part of the tour. The painting had undergone a recent conservation and the colors were extraordinarily vibrant. It was really quite a lovely work.
Tonight we performed our last real concert at St. Agnes. I say “real concert” because we will still sing at the Thomaskirche this weekend with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra, but in the context of worship services. As tour progresses, I’m hitting a lot of “lasts.” The Last Supper for instance. (Just kidding.) But in all seriousness, passing these milestones has been completely bittersweet. One one hand, I’m really torn up that I won’t be singing with the Chorale next year. It’s been a major part of my Valpo career, not to mention my daily schedule. However, I’m so excited for the future of the ensemble, to see how it will change and evolve over the next years. Obviously Chorale is never the same two years in a row, but I think that’s what makes it really great. It has almost become its own entity, a group of people that is always in flux, but remains steady through the music it creates over and over. Singing in Germany is a wonderful chance for this powerful ensemble to spread joy and share our gifts.
But enough waxing philosophical. I had another fabulous pastry today. It was an amazing strudel filled with cherries and I think I ate it in about three minutes, which might be a record for me. So many good sweets in Germany, it might be hard to leave…
May 20: Concert - Leipzig, Lutherkirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 23: Service - Seyda (10 a.m.) and Gentha (1 p.m.)
May 24: Concert – Rottenburg am Neckar, Wallfahrtskirche Weggental (7 p.m.)
May 25: Choral Workshop – Rottenburg am Neckar (9:30 a.m.)
May 26: Concert - Bernburg, Schlosskirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 27: Concert - Köthen, St. Agnus kirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 28 - Service - Leipzig, Thomaskirche (5 p.m.)
May 29 - Cantata - Leipzig, Thomaskirche (3 p.m.)
May 30 - Service - Leipzig, Thomaskirche 10 (a.m.)