“He who offers thanks praises me…” – Cantata No.17 by J.S. Bach

November 5, 2008 at 2:39 am (Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Music)

Yes, i know, this is a big day, a crucial day for this country, which we love…and for that very reason I’m going to take a break from the election news to write about a Bach cantata.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

I heard this piece performed live Sunday evening at beautiful Christ Lutheran Church in Baltimore. On the program were also a chorale entitled “My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker!,” an organ work also by Bach, and  “Cantate Domino” by Claudio Monteverdi.

T Herbert Dimmock The conductor was T. Herbert Dimmock, an expert on music of the Baroque period. He explained the various thematic elements of the cantata, thereby enriching our listening experience. Not only was the Bach Concert Choir wonderful, but the three soloists, Karen Myers (soprano), Biraj Barkakaty (countertenor), and Farrar Strum (helden tenor) were likewise impressive.

Next came the chorale. This music was contained in our programs, so we were all invited to join in the singing. I jumped right in, and was reminded of how much I enjoyed the choral singing of my college years.

The organ solo was entitled “Prelude, Adagio and Fugue in C Major” (BWV 564). It was played by Jason Kissel, an incredibly accomplished organist who looks to be all of about eighteen years old!

Jason Kissel

Jason Kissel

Christ Lutheran’s majestic instrument is the Andover Organ, Opus 114, the installation of which was completed only last year.



Finally, the Bach Concert Choir returned for an a capella performance of the gorgeous Cantate Domino of Claudio Monteverdi.

Monteverdi is a composer we need to hear more of. This next video clip features the current high priest of early music performance in Europe, Jordi Savall, conducting the marvelous Toccata from the opera L’Orfeo. Savall and the band are all in period dress and playing original instruments – I love it!

This concert was part of the Bach Concert Series. The program notes inform us that “There is no other organization in all of central Maryland performing Bach cantatas on a regular basis.” Unfortunately, their funding sources are starting to run dry due to the current financial crisis. In fact, they are concerned about being able to complete all the performances scheduled for the current season.

As we contemplate the ashes of a financial system brought close to ruin by fraud and greed, our souls thirst for the beauty and meaning that this great music gives to our lives. A fine listening and giving opportunity is occurring next month on Bach Festival Day – Sunday December 7 at 4 PM – These fine musicians will perform one of my absolute favorite pieces: “Jauchzet frohlocket, auf preiset die Tage,” the first cantata from Bach’s magnificent Christmas Oratorio!


  1. Jackie Scott said,

    Thank you for posting your review, and we are so glad you enjoyed our concert as much as we loved performing it.

    Our organization is actually called The Bach Concert Series: http://www.bachinbaltimore.org.

    Fear not: We will be performing our entire concert schedule this season (and we will try our best to maintain a free concert series next season although it will be a challenge to do so).

    The Bach Concert Series invites everyone to come hear our free cantata concerts; they are always scheduled on the first Sunday of the month (October – June), at 4 p.m., at Christ Lutheran Church in the Inner Harbor, Baltimore. More details about each month on the website. Our only concert for which we will charge admission this season will be our performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass for the May 3 concert..

    We hope you will attend.

  2. Roberta Rood said,

    Thanks for your comments, Jackie. I plan to attend as many of these wonderful concerts as I possibly can!

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    […] it on?). Meanwhile, I must return to Christ Lutheran Church for Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, once again courtesy of  The Bach Concert […]

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