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Bach Festivals & Cantata Series
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Name:

Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (BCP)

Location:

Various locations in Europe, the UK and the USA

Venues:

Various venues in in Europe, the UK and the USA. See: List of Concerts

Years:

1999-2000 + 1 complentrary concert in 2012

Months:

December 1999 - December 2000 + May 2012

Artistic Director:

John Eliot Gardiner

Ensembles:

Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists

Website:

Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (Monteverdi Productions)

History & Mission:

On Christmas Day 1999 a unique celebration of the new Millennium began in the Herderkiche in Weimar, Germany: the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists under the direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner undertook an ambitious tour to perform all of J.S. Bach’s surviving church cantatas in the course of the year 2000, the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach’s death.

The cantatas were performed on the liturgical feasts for which they were composed (Some cantatas were excluded a priori from the pilgrimage, as their composition is not associated with religious calendar commitments), in a year-long musical pilgrimage encompassing some of the most beautiful churches throughout Europe (including many where J.S. Bach himself performed) and culminating in three concerts in New York over the Christmas festivities at the end of the millennial year.

It was a remarkable and rewarding experience for all who took part, as well as for the audiences who came to hear us in thirteen European countries and in New York. As both musical and spiritual pilgrims we became participants in a living process, a journey of discovery both physically and emotionally.

All the concerts but one were recorded. A number of the cantatas were released by Deutsche Grammophon on Archiv. Most of the recordings made during the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage are released in 27 volumes on Sir John Eliot Gardiner's own label, Soli Deo Gloria (recordings released by Deutsche Grammophon will not be released again on the Soli Deo Gloria label). The series is due to be completed in 2012 with a live recording in London of cantatas for Ascension Day that were performed in Salisbury during the pilgrimage, but were not recorded for technical reasons.

The Pilgrimage in figures:
1 year
59 concerts
282 musicians
Over 60 churches in Europe, the UK and the USA
50 cities
13 countries
198 cantatas performed
Over 40 concerts recorded

“When we embarked on the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in Weimar on Christmas Day 1999 we had no real sense of how the project would turn out. There were no precedents, no earlier attempts to perform all Bach's surviving church cantatas on the appointed feast day and all within a single year, for us to draw on or to guide us. Just as in planning to scale a mountain or cross an ocean, you can make meticulous provision, calculate your route and get all the equipment in order, in the end you have to deal with whatever the elements - both human and physical - throw at you at any given moment.

With weekly preparations leading to the performances of these extraordinary works, a working rhythm we sustained throughout a whole year, our approach was influenced by several factors: time (never enough), geography (the initial retracing of Bach's footsteps in Thuringia and Saxony), architecture (the churches both great and small where we performed), the impact of one week's music on the next and on the different permutations of players and singers joining and rejoining the pilgrimage, and inevitably, the hazards of weather, travel and fatigue. Compromises were sometimes needed to accommodate the quirks of the liturgical year (Easter falling exceptionally late in 2000 meant that we ran out of liturgical slots for the late Trinity season cantatas, so that they needed to be redistributed among other programmes). Then to fit into a single evening cantatas for the same day composed by Bach over a forty-year span meant deciding on a single pitch (A = 415) for each programme, so that the early Weimar cantatas written at high organ pitch needed to be performed in the transposed version Bach adopted for their revival, real or putative, in Leipzig. Although we had commissioned a new edition of the cantatas by Reinhold Kubik, incorporating the latest source findings, we were still left with many practical decisions to make over instrumentation, pitch, bass figuration, voice types, underlay and so on. Nor did we have the luxury of repeated performances in which to try out various solutions: at the end of each feast-day we had to put the outgoing trio or quartet of cantatas to the back of our minds and move on the next clutch - which came at us thick and fast at peak periods such as Whitsun, Christmas and Easter. “

John Eliot Gardiner
From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, ©2004

Logo:

May 10, 2012 Bach Marathon
Apr 1, 2013 [1]
Bach Marathon
Apr 1, 2013 [2]
  Programme      

Source: Mostly Monteverdi Productions Website

Prepared by Aryeh Oron (March 2012 - March 2013)

John Eliot Gardiner: Short Biography | Monteverdi Choir | English Baroque Soloists | Bach Cantata Pilgrimage
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Videos | Recordings of Instrumental Works
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Newsletters
Cantatas:
Cantatas BWV 106, 118b, 198 | Cantatas BWV 140, 147 | Cantatas BWV 11, 37, 43, 128 | Cantatas BWV 6, 66 | Cantatas BWV 72, 73, 111, 156 | Cantatas BWV 82, 83, 125, 200
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage:
BCP - Vols 1&8 | BCP - Vol. 6 | BCP - Vol. 9 | BCP - Vol. 13 | BCP - Vol. 14 | BCP - Vol. 15 | BCP - Vol. 21 | BCP - Vol. 22 | BCP - Vol. 23 | BCP - Vol. 24 | BCP - Vol. 26 | Bach Cantata Pilgrimage DVD | DVD John Eliot Gardiner in Rehearsal
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 245 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 248 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 1127 - J.E. Gardiner
Table of recordings by BWV Number

Bach Festivals & Cantata Series: Main Page: Countries A-I | Page 2: Countries J-Z | Schedule of Concerts of Bach's Vocal Works
Links to Bach Festivals | Links to Bach Organizations & Societies | Discussions of Bach Festivals & Cantata Concerts
Major Bach Events: Year 2015 | Year 2014 | Year 2013 | Year 2012 | Year 2011 | Year 2010 | Year 2009

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Last update: ýMarch 14, 2013