Kantorei Celebrates Bach's Religious Music

By Blumenthal, Fred | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 6, 1995 | Go to article overview

Kantorei Celebrates Bach's Religious Music


Blumenthal, Fred, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


SINCE before the construction of the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus, and especially before the infamous Seminex rift sent conductor Robert Bergt out of town, the American Kantorei has been among the most notable of local musical institutions. In its day its choir was arguably the best in town, and it remains the most public and proudest of Concordia Seminary's offerings to local music. Further, it's interesting to note that the Kantorei and the Bach Society of St. Louis, the only two local performance institutions dedicated to one specific composer, specialize in the same one.

The Kantorei consists of a small choir containing some of the area's best professional singers and a small professional orchestra, recruited partly from St. Louis Symphony players. Its offerings are more correctly church services than performances, as they include liturgy, hymns, a sermon and a collection, and they aren't applauded, although listeners include those who attend simply to hear the Kantorei perform Bach.

When the Kantorei opened the 1995-96 season of its "Bach at the Sem" series Sunday evening, the Bach afficionados may have felt short-changed. The cantata "Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet!" ("Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!" BWV 245), the featured composition, lasted only 23 minutes, and the only other Bach music was an arrangement by E. Power Biggs for organ and two trumpets of a piece from another cantata. Other music, apparently required by liturgy, included a setting by the recently deceased Jan Bender of Psalm 25, and a "Magnificat" by Joseph Bonnet. …

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