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Bach-Chor Berlin (Choir)

Founded: 1961 - Berlin, Germany

Bach-Chor an der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche

Bach Cantatas - alive tradition

The Bach-Chor an der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche has kept up a singular tradition: For over 40 years it performed every 14 days in the context of a service a Bach Cantata. Thus the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche is the only place beside the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, at which the complete cantata-works of J.S. Bach can be regularly heard and experienced in liturgical context. More than 760 Cantata services and clergyman of concerts took place since 1961, the year of the foundation of the Bach-Chor an der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche. The complete cantatas of J.S. Bach and his Masses, Oratorios, Passions and Motets have been performed in concerts, as well as many of his instrumental, organ and orchestral works. Also the works of numerous other composers such as Heinrich Schütz, George Frideric Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Dvorák and Johannes Brahms rank among over 40 years of choir tradition.

The Interpreters

About 80 singers give their voices to the Bach-Chor. The Bach-Collegium, an instrumental ensemble engages instrumentalists who are members of big Berlin orchestras (Orchester der Deutschen Oper, Berliner Philharmoniker, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, Staatskapelle Berlin). Important soloists appear regularly as in the performances of the two ensembles. Apart from performances in Berlin area (Choriner Musiksommer, Klosterkirche Neuruppin) as well as in Dresden and Leipzig, concert tours have led the Bach-Chor and the Bach-Collegium to Poland, Spain, Israel, Japan and the USA.

The musical direction of both ensembles lies in the hands of Professor Achim Zimmermann. Since 2002 he succeeded Hanns-Martin Schneidt (1961-1963), Helmuth Rilling (1963-1964) and Karl Hochreither as director of the Bach-Chor and the Bach-Collegium.

The history of the Cantata services and the Bach-Chor

The Bach-Chor an der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche was created in the autumn 1961 by Hanns-Martin Schneidt. With a performance of the Cantatas I-III of the Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) of its name patron the choir appeared in public for the first time on the day of the inauguration of the new memory church on December 17, 1961.

The regular performance of Bach Cantatas in week final services began in Berlin in 1947. Among the initiators at that time was the important Bach researcher Friedrich Smend (died in 1980). Up to the establishment of the Bach-Chor the Cantatas were performed by various Berlin choirs. Over the years more firmly instrumental ensemble and an essentially continuous circle of soloists were added. The conducting in each case was given to the director the participating choir.

Hanns-Martin Schneidt, which had taken over 1956 the direction of the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule and der Spandauer Kantorei, denied nearly all performances starting from 1957. On May 25, 1957, he created the Bach-Collegium from the proven circle of the instrumentalists, who came first, due to the building of the wall only from the orchestras of the Western part of Berlin (Orchester der Deutschen Oper, Berliner Philharmoniker, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester-Berlin). Later the Collegium was statutory connected with the Bach-Chor. Since the reunification members of orchestras of the former East part of the city, including those of the Staatskapelle (Orchester der Staatsoper), could also play. After Hanns-Martin Schneidt left Berlin, Helmuth Rilling took over the direction of the Bach-Chor and the Bach-Collegium for a short period. His follower, Karl Hochreither, began in February 1964 and continued up to 2001. Since January 2002 Professor Achim Zimmermann leads the Bach-Chor and the Bach-Collegium.


Source: Bach-Chor Berlin Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (June 2005)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2005)

Karl Hochreither: Short Biography | Bach-Chor Berlin | Bach-Collegium Berlin | Recordings of Vocal Works | Bach-Chor Berlin: Cantata Series

Achim Zimmermann: Short Biography | Berliner Singakademie | Bach-Chor Berlin | Bach-Collegium Berlin | Recordings of Vocal Works | Bach-Chor Berlin: Cantata Series

Links to other Sites

Bach-Chor Berlin (Official Website) [German]

 

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Last update: żNovember 9, 2009 ż18:25:02