published Thursday, April 11th, 2013

'Music in Honor of the Virgin Mary'

Bach's Magnificat is centerpiece of Chattanooga Bach Choir concert


What: Chattanooga Bach Choir's "Music in Honor of the Virgin Mary"

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 14

Where: Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave.

Admission: $15 suggested donation; free for students with valid IDs


  • photo
    People watch the unveiling of a statue of the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus on Santa Barbara hill in the mining city of Oruro, Bolivia.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga Bach Choir will offer "Music in Honor of the Virgin Mary" in a concert Sunday, April 14, at Grace Episcopal Church.

Under the direction of David Long, the choir and 20-piece orchestra will perform three settings of Mary's ecstatic song of joy. Bach's Magnificat, the best-known of the three, is the centerpiece of the program.

Soloists for this intricate work will be Beth Duroy (soprano), Sara Snider Schone (mezzo-soprano), Rosella Ewing (mezzo-soprano), Harv Wileman (tenor) and David Tahere (baritone).

Written for five-part choir and five soloists, and an orchestra of 20 musicians, Magnificat is the second of the masterworks planned for the choir over the next several years. The first, The St. John Passion, was performed by the choir last spring.

Originally written in 1723 as a Christmas piece, combining the words of the Magnificat with a number of Christmas texts, Bach rewrote the piece some 10 years later, weeding out the seasonal material to allow more occasions for its performance.

Another setting of the text by Jan Dismas Zelenka, an 18th-century composer from what is now the Czech Republic, is also on the program. Though the work is more than 200 years old, it features such innovative harmonies that it sounds very modern and in places, almost jazzy, according to a news release from choir administrator Dabney Carden.

The third setting, "Meine Seel Erhebt," the first movement of Bach's Cantata 10, is in German rather than the usual Latin and is known sometimes as "the hottest work of Bach." Lively and fresh, it reflects the youth, eagerness and perhaps even terror of Mary as she learns of her remarkable destiny.

Other works on the program include Mozart's Regina Coeli, with its Handel-like alleluias, and his "Sancta Maria, Mater Dei," a simple but little-known work for choir and soloists.

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