Joining Bach's musical legacy
Abby Lange

Day two of our residency at the St. Thomaskirche in Leipzig passed in a flash. Today we sang at the afternoon motette service, accompanied by our friends in the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra.  We sang two pieces from our regular program: Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service and the spiritual Hallelujah, which is a real crowd pleaser with its gospel preacher-esque solo. With the orchestra we sang one of Handel’s coronation anthems and a Bach cantata (number 176 for anyone who’s really interested).

Singing Bach’s music in the church where he worked for 26 years and is now buried is a really amazing experience. It’s just crazy to think that he stood and made music in the same balcony that we sang from too.  There is so much musical history at the St. Thomaskirche, and now everyone in the Chorale can say that they are a small part of that history as well.  Another connection to the past—285 years ago yesterday, the cantata we sang today premiered at the Thomaskirche. Thinking about that makes me feel even closer to those musicians that originally sang and performed the work. Even though we’ve only sung a few worship services here, we are always going to be a little fraction of the musical legacy of Leipzig and the Thomaskirche.  How cool is that?

I should back up for a moment and talk about the special tour we got before the service, compliments of Pastor Wolff, the head pastor at the St. Thomaskirche. He talked to us about the history of the church for a while and then led us up the 239 steps to the top tower of the church. It was quite the climb, let me tell you. Thankfully we stopped at various points of interest along the way. About 1/5 of the way up, we saw the giant church bells. The largest one is nicknamed “Gloriosa” and weighs over five tons! The next stopping point was about halfway up and the featured highlight here was the old fashioned “air conditioner” … AKA hole in the floor.  The hole is obviously covered up for safety reasons, but Pastor Wolff was able to partially open it and it turns out that we were standing right over the middle of the sanctuary, about five stories up. No one fell through, don’t worry. Then the rest of the way to the top for an amazing view of Leipzig. Similarly to many of our climbing ventures, the scene at the top was definitely worth the workout.

Tomorrow we will finish up our time at the St. Thomaskirche by participating in the Sunday morning worship service, and then we fly out early Monday morning. Tour has gone by so quickly! And yet, it does feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen family and friends. Although it would be nice if I could just hang out in Germany for another few months, I think tour was everything that I wanted and needed for a good conclusion of my Chorale experience.  We saw amazing sights, performed powerful concerts and witnessed some truly moving and inspiring events—really a perfect ending for me.

Thanks for letting me share a few thoughts with you these past two weeks.  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the pictures and watching the videos too. Hopefully they’ve been enough to persuade you to go to a real Chorale concert next year! So for the last time, auf wiedersehen, everyone!

PHOTO GALLERY
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VIDEO GALLERY
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CHORALE ITINERARY

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.)