Arts & Entertainment

Magnificat and Motets are 'Bach to Bach!' with Violinist Brennan Sweet, Organist Andrew Henderson and the St. Paul’s Choir in Concert

April 17, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is the featured composer in this year’s 28th Anniversary Concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westfield on Sunday, May 4th.  The St. Paul’s Choir, with guest soloists and members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, will perform choral and orchestral works by the celebrated Baroque musical genius, including Bach’s Magnificat in D Major, three Motets, his Violin Concerto in A minor and his Sinfonia for Organ & Orchestra in D minor.  Sponsored by the Friends of Music at St. Paul’s, the concert begins promptly at 7pm.

Brennan Sweet, Associate Concert Master, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, is the concert’s Concerto soloist.  Sweet studied violin at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music (Budapest, Hungary) and earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University.  Having joined NJSO in 1994 as ACM, he also served for three seasons as the orchestra’s Acting Concertmaster.  Sweet was recently praised for “contribut[ing] a lush-toned, heartfelt and nuanced solo” in an NJSO performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (On Music, Ronni Reich, Star-Ledger, 3-24-14)The three movements of Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, particularly the opening Allegro with its “extraordinary” melodic theme, but also the “deeply moving” Andante and the final,“energetic” Andante assai, are expected to allow ample room for Sweet’s virtuosity.

Andrew Henderson, Director of Music and Organist at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City since 2005, returns as soloist in Bach’s Sinfonia in D minor, performing on St. Paul’s magnificent organ.  His musical credits and performance venues are legion:  Degrees from Cambridge University, Yale and Julliard; performances at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey (London), the National Cathedral (Washington, D.C.) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other major NYC venues.

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Bach’s Motet, O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht, described as “achingly beautiful” and “mesmerizing,” is crafted for flugelhorns, oboes, strings, continuo (harpsichord and organ) and chorus.  It is one of Bach’s last choral works.  In contrast, the Motet Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden is a fluid exercise in harmonic choral polyphony and is scored for oboes, strings, continuo and chorus. The Motet Der Gerechte kommt uns is an arrangement of an arrangement.  In Bach’s arrangement, he scores the piece for oboes, strings, continuo  and SSATB chorus.  

The ever-dedicated St. Paul’s Choir, with soloists and orchestra, are expected to perform Bach’s powerful and reflective Magnificat with “exuberance and jubilation.”  It is Bach’s second largest work in Latin, his Mass in B minor being the largest.  Magnificat, the canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “has been set to music more often than any liturgical text other than the [church] Mass itself.”

Bach to Bach! concert conductor Charles M. Banks “anticipates a glorious musical evening” on May 4th.  A gifted organist in his own right, Banks is celebrating his 28th year as Director of Music at St. Paul’s.

St. Paul's is located at 414 E. Broad Street in Westfield.   Area parking is free.  Concert tickets at $20 for adults may be purchased at the door; students are welcome at no charge.   All are invited to a festive reception following the event.   For more information, please call  Charles M. Banks at (908) 451-5082 or email   Credit:  T.J. Karns, Publicity, St. Paul’s.

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