Valparaiso University has an unparalleled relationship with the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where J.S. Bach served as cantor.
Throughout its history, the church and its St. Thomas Boys’ Choir have played a significant role in shaping Lutheran church music. In 1723, J.S. Bach was installed as St. Thomas’ director of music, a position he served for 27 years.
Throughout the last decade, Valparaiso University has developed a strong relationship with St. Thomas Church, and the Valpo Chorale is the only collegiate American choir to serve four residencies at the church. Because of the close partnership between the two institutions, Valpo offers a rare opportunity for music enthusiasts in the Midwest region to see the choir of Johann Sebastian Bach’s home church.
In June 2012, to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the church, the Valparaiso University Chorale and Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., University President visited Leipzig for the annual Bach fest celebration. During this visit, President Heckler signed an agreement with the church resolving to continue the cultural, educational, and theological exchanges for many years to come. As part of this agreement, the Chorale will continue to perform at the St. Thomas Church, the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University will conduct scholarly endeavors in Leipzig, and St. Thomas clergy and cantors will contribute theologically and musically to Valpo’s campus.