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Bach_Cantatas Mailing List

New Yahoo Group formed specializing in Bach Cantata performances with boys' voices

Douglas Neslund wrote (September 8, 2001):
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Music lovers,

Today I have formed a new Yahoo Group called "Bach Cantatas" which is dedicated to sharing information and reviews of original performance practice concerts and CDs employing boys' voices. The purpose of the new group is to offer a safe haven to those of us who love the Cantatas performed with original voices instead of women's voices, an "instrument" not employed by Bach himself in the cantata genre.

The rules are simple: give your opinion and review the performances, but do not vilify or defame any performers or conductors, or others on the forum who hold a different view or prefer a different sound. Research is ongoing, and news of discoveries or new conclusions regarding performance practice is welcome.

Please feel free to join us at any level: Individual Emails (in which you will receive all email exchanges in your inbox); Daily Digest; Special Announcements; or No Email (in which you must go to the Group Home in order to read messages.
You can join by clicking on the following link
and follow the prompts.

It's an early start, but a good one!

Douglas Neslund wrote (September 8, 2001):
While we are brand new - a little over an hour after birth - I want to send special greetings to the Three Wise Men who (other than yours truly) form the membership of this special group: Boyd Pehrson, Aryeh Oron, and Nicholas Bergström-Allen. You are each special people, and your presence already makes this group very special to me.

Please feel free to utilize the Files, Bookmarks, Photos and Polls sections of our new group's website. I have thrown up a few photos from my recent visit to Leipzig to hear the wonderful Tölzer Knabenchor sing Bach (and may I also say, Schütz!) at Thomaskirche, with the present Kantor, Georg Christoph Biller, present. I also have uploaded my own choir (California Boys' Choir) singing a distinctly non-HIP performance of the duet from BVW 78, Jesu der du meine Seele; listen for the ornamentation in the da capo!

A most warm welcome to all of you!

New file uploaded to Bach_Cantata

Andreas Bughardt wrote (September 9, 2001):
This email message is a notification to let you know that a file has been uploaded to the Files area of the Bach_Cantatas group.

File : /DurchMaechtigeKraft.mp3
Uploaded by :
Description : Ulrich Wand, soloist of the Tölzer Knabenchor, is singing the alto aria "Durch mächtige Kraft" from the Ratswahl cantata "Gott ist mein König" (BWV 71). Collegium Aureum, dir. Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden.

You can access this file at the URL

To learn more about file sharing for your group, please visit

What a fitting tribute to J.S. Bach, Cantor, Thomasschule!

Boyd Pehrson
wrote (September 10, 2001):
A heartfelt welcome to all new members of the Bach_Cantatas Group! This Group is a fitting tribute to the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach who, during the last 27 years of his life, worked as Cantor for the Thomasschule, a church boychoir school in Leipzig. May this group continue to grow and prosper in all its endeavours!

Bach's position in Leipzig as Cantor and director of church music was the most prominent position in the Lutheran realm. The Thomanerchor, as the choir is called, in Bach's time had the duty of singing services in the three main churches and two other smaller churches in Leipzig. It was Bach's duty to compose all the regular church music, and train the boys to sing it. Among other things Bach was to teach latin to the boys, and take turns visiting sick boys and the leading of the boys in their prayers.

The boys' choir was already 475 years old when Bach became their Cantor. These duties he performed with genius and devoted tenacity. Out of Bach's time teaching and composing in Leipzig, we have a most astounding richness of the world's most masterful and beautiful music. Indeed, the most critical of Bach's compositions; the majority of the Cantatas, the Motets, his Christmas and Easter Oratorios, his Passions, his Magnificat, his Art of the Fugue, his Notebook for Anna Magdalena, his Musical Offering, the Goldberg Variations, and his insurmountable Mass in B minor, (etc..) all had their birth under Bach's hand in Leipzig.

Today, Bach's historic boys' choir maintains their 750 years of excellence in church music. They are proud of their most famous cantor's work and jealously guard his inheritance, now mainly focused on the preservation of Bach´s choral works. Weekly performances of Bach´s motets and cantatas still take place in Sunday worship services at St Thomas' Church in Leipzig. Bach's gifts to the Thomasschule, Leipzig and the world are thus preserved in a valued tradition. Other boys' choirs have stepped forward to preserve Bach's rich tradition as well. The Tölzer Knabenchor, Knabenchor Hannover, Vienna Choir Boys, Dresdner Kreuzchor, Windsbacher Knabenchor, Cantores Minores, Guildford Cathedral Choir, Choir of King's College Cambridge, and many other boys' choirs have "stepped up to the plate" to preserve Bach's tradition through fine performances and recordings of Bach's compositions.

That tradition is here celebrated, encouraged and preserved. We are happy to see friends of the tradition express their thoughts, feelings and ideas about the inheritance Bach has bequeathed to choir boys around the world. Whether you are a lay person, musician, director or composer your thoughts are welcome! Bach's Cantatas are the focus of this forum, but I believe there is plenty of room to discuss the Motets, Passions, and Masses of Bach, (etc...) as they often contain ideas from Bach's Cantata compositions. Please feel free to join in, and have a great time!

Will Crump wrote (September 10, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson] I enjoyed reading your synopsis of Bach's history with the Thomanerchor Leipzig.

I have the B-Minor Mass with the Cantores Minores (Helsinki Cathedral Boys' Choir) and with the Windsbacher Knabenchor. That is a beautiful mass. I just wish I could find a version with boy trebles singing all the soprano arias as I am willing to bet was the way it was probably originally sung.

Next April my choir, the Rhodes Mastersingers' Chorale will be performing this daunting work and I can't wait to get into it.

I would love to find the Bach2000 set of cantatas, especially the volume that has cantata 4 "Christ Lag In Todes Banden". I want all of the BACH2000 series that has the boys' choirs singing the cantatas. Does anyone know where I can get these? Also, does anyone know of a recording of the B-Minor Mass where the boys sing all soprano and alto arias?

I have a CD of the Thomanerchor Leipzig where they sing music composed by their various cantors. I think I will put that on now before I go to bed....

Boyd Pehrson wrote (September 10, 2001):
[To Will Crump] I believe Tower Records (.com) is your best resource for the Bach2000 series. The Cantatas have their own Big Box set. If you obtained Cantores Minores, you'll have no trouble locating the Bach2000!

The only all male recording of Bach's Mass in B Minor that I know of is Robert King's 1996 recording.

Here is all the information:
Release Date: 2/10/1997
Catalog#: CDA 67201/2
Label: Hyperion
Spars: DDD
Pieces in Set: 2

Tower link:

Mass in B minor, BWV 232
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Country: Leipzig, Germany
Written: 1747-1749
Period: Baroque
Form: Mass
Conductor: Robert King
Ensemble: King's Consort, King's Consort Cho,
Tölzer Knabenchor & Soloists: Matthias Ritter,
Manuel Mrasek, Boy Sopranos, Matthias Schloderer,
Maximilian Fraas, Boy Altos
Performers: Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Tenor
Michael George, Bass
James O'Donnell, Chamber Organ

Editorial Reviews:

Gramophone (3/97, p. 78) -
"...The appearance of the Tölzers and their inimitably open and rich 'chest' voices is indeed of prime interest in a fascinating new account of this supreme work..."
There is much to admire in Robert King's 1996 recording with the King's Consort. With a sizable group of boy sopranos and altos (but not English boys, whose timbre is quite different from that of these German boys), this performance comes closest of all, perhaps, to the sound of church music as Bach knew it. The chorus consists of 35 members, almost exactly the number Bach might have had at his disposal. The account is splendidly realized and beautifully recorded. Don't be put off by the all-black artwork on the face of the jewel box: inside is a treasure worth discovering. --Ted Libbey

Larry Ford wrote (September 10, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson & Will Crump] I have that Hyperion recording of the B-minor Mass. It is performed with the Tölzer Knabenchor as the boychoir and the Choir of the King's Consort. Robert King used all male soloists in this recording. It is a beautiful recording and was recommended to me by Douglas and Andreas (thank you gentlemen). I made my purchase from CDNow despite a rather scathing review published on CDNow by a music critic who knows absolutely nothing about boys voices.

Takashi Lutheran wrote (September 10, 2001):
It seems most of the forum members are familiar to me.

I love Tölzer Knabenchor's h-moll the best personally.

When the Tölzer Knabenchor came to Japan last year, they performed 'Jesu, meine Freude.' One TV station aired a special program of their tour. In that program there is a scene where they are rehearsing that motetttet. There Herr Schmidtgarten tells each boy to sing 'Gottes Lamb, der Breutigam.' (spelled correctly?) Herr Schmitgarden is never a compromising person. When he is not satisfied, he yells, 'Nicht!' All the boys who could not satisfy the conductor had to be excluded although they were given a seconcd chance. He chose the members to sing the piece in this strict way. I went to the concert after that rehearsal, and it was beautifully done.

In another TV program featuring Tölzer Knabenchor, Herr Schmidtgarten talked about the reason he established the choir. He was a member of Thomanerchor but he felt something was different from Bach's days. That's how he decided to establish Tölzer Knabenchor, and personally I like his style the best.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Douglas Neslund wrote (September 11, 2001):
[To Takashi Lutheran] Thank you for writing about your experiences with the Tölzer Knabenchor while they were in Japan.

I was privileged to attend the rehearsal in Munich just week before the choir went to Leipzig to sing at Thomaskirche, and the same thing happened as you describe - Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden auditioned each voice (boys and men) individually in order to choose who would sing which item. The number of singers changed from the motet "Fürchte dich nicht" to the incredibly beautiful performance of the Actus Tragicus (BWV 106). So the maestro had to be selective. I have the results on digital videotape, and if I can ever get my camera back from the repair shop (a lady accidentally knocked it over despite the fact it was on a tripod) I shall attempt to upload whatever portion that Yahoo Groups will allow in terms of size of file. Obviously, YG will not allow a complete upload of the entire piece, which would be very nice. I have no idea how huge a file like that would be, but a lot!

Please forgive me, but I must make one slight correction in addition to the director's name. Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden started the Tölzers after he worked as assistant director to Kurt Thomas in the 1950s at Thomaskirche (he didn't sing in that choir as a boy, since he was from Bavaria to begin with). But, he noticed the difference between the size of choral and instrumental forces employed by Kurt Thomas and the historical accounts of performances directed by Bach himself, and determined to create his own boychoir in order to provide the world with historically correct numbers of singers and instrumentalists. And so last May was the first time in his life that he had the chance to take his own choir into Thomaskirche, and perform in the original manner. The effect was unbelievably electric for myself, for Andreas, for Ellen, for Peter, and for about 2,000 others who were filling every seat and also standing along the aisles of the church.

I share your belief that the Tölzer performances and recordings probably come closer to the Uraufführung (original performance) of any choir singing today of any kind.

Jenny wrote (September 12, 2001):
[To Douglas Neslund] Perhaps you could upload this to one of the myplay websites that Larry hosts.

Douglas Neslund wrote (September 13, 2001):
[To Jenny] (How nice to hear from you again!!) :-)

When I get my camera back, perhaps I can work out the details of how to do that! It is incredibly beautiful, and given the events of yesterday, totally appropriate and will bring tears.

Bach_Cantatas Database

Boyd Pehrson wrote (September 24, 2001):
You may want to take a look at the Bach_Cantats database.
(at: )
There you will find a growing collection of CD Title information, Recommended reading material, and Published CD Reviews.

You will also want to use the bookmarks area; a superb source of internet links to the best available information on Bach's works. Also, take a listen to the two files provided by Andreas and Douglas; found of course; in the files area.

We want to encourage you to listen, and offer your own thoughts about Bach's Cantatas and other Bach works performed by trebles.

Blessings to all for a week of hope and peace!

No Subject

Boyd Pehrson wrote (October 7, 2001):
Newly scanned engravings from 18th century Leipzig have been added in the Photos section of Bach_Cantatas. They are located in their own folder named "Leipzig Music Engravings." These engravings show choirs engaging in various activities during Bach's time. The first engraving shows a Lutheran Funeral procession. A choir of 16-20 boys and men sing and walk in front of the casket carriers. Half of them appear to have music sheets and seem to be sharing the music sheets with the other half. Their Cantor walks beside the choristers. It is probable they are singing a motet for the singing is unaccompanied, but cantatas were also known to be sung in such processions by this time, around 1730. The second engraving is by a former student of Bach in St Thomas', Bernard Picander. Here Picander depicts some St Thomas students singing a little "night music," in the streets of Leipzig to earn moneys. Shown is a prefect leading a choir of boys, and an instrumental accompaniment by Musikverein students. All singers seem to be reading from the prefect's one music copy, and the lead violinist seems to be looking over at the sheet of music as well, but difficult to say. You may notice a person in the window of the house, perhaps she/he will place some money in the boys bags. The next engravings show the St Thomas School where Bach lived and taught for 27 years, and also the St Thomas church. Here one can see how closely the school and church are situated. A close-up detail shows the St Thomas choir exiting the school and walking over to the St Thomas church.

These engravings were scanned and uploaded with the highest possible resolution so that Bach_Cantatas members may inspect them in every detail.

Welcome to new members in December!

Boyd Pehrson
wrote (December 24, 2001):
Welcome to three new members of Bach_Cantatas in December! and Christmastide Greetings to all of our Bach_Cantatas subscribers! Feel free to contribute any of your thoughts about the music you love, whenever you feel comforta. We are here to share in the experiences that all of us enjoy while listening to Bach's Sacred music, especially performed in the ancient art form of boychoir.

Your new group is breaking ground in the Bach discussions forums and in the boychoir discussion groups. Our world is increasingly losing touch with that wonderful and ancient art form that is the unique and inimitable sound of boys' voices. Each new generation must be made aware of the traditions and art forms that past generations have thoughtfully and lovingly preserved for our enjoyment. Thus, given such great gifts, we have a responsibility to preserve, respect and nurture these art forms for the benefit of future generations. It is with this in mind that we take seriously the task set before us. We are committed to providing unique, original, and interesting information to you about Bach's Sacred Music performed in a traditional format. Unlike some E-groups, we do not simply cut and paste information found elsewhere. Many of our original boychoir articles cannot be found elsewhere, and we strive to provide members with the tools they need to help preserve this cherished and valuable art form. We are also committed to encouraging members to speak their mind, tell others about things they hear and see, and share their most enjoyable Bach moments!

You may want to view your wonderful Photos Files, download some performances from your Files section, or look through the Data Base to see what others say about performances, or to obtain CD ordering information. Your contributions to any of these areas is very welcome! Take some moments to access your group website, and
look through some of the interesting posts you may have missed before joining:

Blessings to all our members!
Happy Holidays!

New Home Page for Bach_Cantatas

Boyd Pehrson wrote (December 29, 2001):
Santa has brought a new gift to the Bach_Cantatas group...its own homepage! Please take a moment to view it. This page is a way to introduce your B_C discussion group to non-members and web surfers, and give them a chance to click and join when they are ready! So, you may link to it from your own webpages and please "enjoy."

Takashi Trushima wrote (December 30, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson] A Happy New Year and thanks for a great site!

The Name of our Lord Jesus

New Bachiana Images

Boyd Pehrson wrote (January 14, 2002):
I have loaded three new images into the photos section of Bach_Cantatas. One is from a 1979 film on Bach's life, another is of a gold plated record disc containing an opening track by Bach being loaded into the Voyager 1 spacecraft. The last image shows a drawing by Felix Mendelssohn of the St Thomas Church, School and Bach

Takashi Trushima wrote (January 14, 2002):
The film is available under the title of 'Joy of Bach' from Vision Video

Boyd Pehrson wrote (January 14, 2002):
[To Takashi Trushima] Thanks for your information. I went ahead and ordered that film from the Vision site. It was "on sale" for $11.99 and they offer both PAL and NTSC formats (and a Russian version). The shipping was $5.99 which I thought to be a little high. I have seen the film twice, and while it is not the best Bach film around it has an unintended naive charm, and some interesting concert shots in Leipzig. One should remember that this film was shot on a budget in the former DDR, and "stereo" was not such a priority for films back in 1979. I will post a review if my order is actually fullfilled. I really enjoy a film on Bach's life by Hans Conrad Fischer. That one cost me $30 at the local video store. I should review it for the forum, as it has shots of the current Thomascantor Georg Christoph Biller when he was singing, and Hans-Joachim Rotzsch conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra, among other film rarities. It is distributed on "Kulture" video label, and is widely available. The Fischer film ISBN number is: 1-56127-855-6

Welcome to new members in January!

Boyd Pehrson wrote (January 31, 2002):
Welcome to three new members of Bach_Cantatas in January! Greetings once again to all of our Bach_Cantatas subscribers! Feel free to contribute any of your thoughts about the music you love, whenever you feel comfortable. We are here to share in the experiences that all of us enjoy while listening to Bach's Sacred music, especially performed in the ancient art form of boys' choirs.

The purpose of this forum is to enhance and to compliment the general conversation on Bach's Sacred works. We are not here to compete with other Bach Cantatas sites, but we are here to enhance them. We are filling a much needed gap in information on boys' choirs histories and their performances of Bach's Sacred music through the last 280 years. Your comments, questions, aand suggestions are always welcome.

Those of our Group who are unfamiliar with Aryeh Oron's Bach Cantatas website and discussion group, you will be able to access it from our bookmarks section. It is the first link. Aryeh's group maintains a steady discussion on a Bach Cantata per week, according to the Lutheran Liturgical Propers that Bach used. I highly recommend Aryeh's website and discussion group for those who want detailed discussions on
each of the Cantatas of Bach.

Here in the Bach_Cantatas group, we try to supply you with unique and hard to find information on the boychoir art form with regard to Bach's Sacred works. Take some moments to access your group website, and look through some of the interesting
posts you may have missed before joining:

Blessings to all our members!

Bach_Cantatas website and mailing list [BCML]

Jim Groeneveld wrote (December 27, 2004):
While scanning through the internet I came across a website:
with an accompanying mailing list:
both differing from _the_ Bach cantatas list and BCML by only an underscore. Traffic is not that busy as on the BCML; I haven't looked into it yet, but could anyone of you tell me the difference between or the speciality of both groups?

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 27, 2004):
[To Jim Groeneveld] I have no idea about the above group - I see it only has very light traffic.

I was the original "founder" of the BCML way back in the previous century. I assume someone else created a similar list, and had to differentiate the two by using a slightly different name.

Uri Golomb wrote (December 27, 2004):
Have a look at the webpage -- it seems to explain the "other" Bach Cantata list quite well (at least it explains the list's purpose; I am not a member of that list, so I have no idea what discussions actually take place in it). BCML (our list) represents a wide variety of tastes and approaches to Bach's vocal music; the other list celebrates and promotes a particular tradition of Bach performance (the boy-choir tradition), and aims "to promote sound scholarship and support of the boys' choir art form". The list's founders, at least, seem to consider such choirs as THE best medium, historically and artistically alike, for the performance of Bach's vocal music (presumably in contradistinction to mixed choirs and OVPP alike). So they aim to create a united-taste community, open to those who believe in the superiority of boys' choirs. I have no idea whether their memebership actually reflects this. Perhaps someone here on BCML is also a member of Bach_Cantatas, and can shed more light on this?

Charles Francis wrote (December 27, 2004):
[To Jim Groeneveld] The other list was established for those wdon't like criticism of musicians or questioning of "historically-informed" performance practice. Dissent is unknown there, and nobody posts anymore.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 27, 2004):
Uri Golomb wrote: < Have a look at the webpage: -- it > seems to explain the "other" Bach Cantata list quite well (at least it explains the list's purpose; [snip]
Perhaps someone here on BCML is also a member of Bach_Cantatas, and can shed more light on this? >
I am a member of the Bach_Cantatas ML,as well as of any other Bach ML over the web.

The Bach_Cantatas ML was founded in September 2001 by some members of the BCML, whe were not pleased with the attitude of other members to boy choirs and/or boy soloists singing Bach Cantatas (especially in H&L cantata series on Teldec).

Initially, as in any ML in its first stages, there were some interesting discussions, most of which have compiled into the relevant pages of the BCW. But during the last couple of years the traffic has become rather slim. About a year ago the moderatorship of the Bach_Cantatas ML was transferred from the founder to Johan van Veen, who is also an important contributor to the BCML/BRML.

The life of a ML are crucially dependent on the number of active contributors. In the BCML/BRML we are blessed with many of them and this is why these ML live for more than 5 years. On the other hand, recently I decided to close the Bach Vocal Concerts ML due to low traffic. Many other Bach ML are actually no active.

I hope to see many of you participating in the 2nd cycle of cantata discussions (starting at the beginning of 2005), whatever your preferences, tastes, approaches and opinions are.

Johan van Veen wrote (December 28, 2004):
[To Jim Groeneveld] Let me, in my capacity as one of the moderators of the 'other' Bach Cantatas list, explain what it is all about.

The list is founded by members of another mailing list, which is devoted to the phenomenon of boys' choirs and boy singers in general. The founders felt the need of a list to discuss more specifically the interpretation of Bach's sacred works by boys' choirs and boy soloists.This doesn't mean only Bach's sacred works can be discussed. Neither does it mean the interpretation of his sacred works by other interpreters than boys' choirs can't be talked about. But the focus is on boys' choirs.

The list has an artistic credo: it takes a fundamentally positive view towards the interpretation of Bach's sacred music by boys' choirs and boy soloists. That view is based on artistic arguments - which to some extent is a matter of taste - as well as historical arguments.

Since the use of boys in the interpretation of Bach's sacred music is an important aspect of the historical performance practice, it can hardly come as a surprise that a fundamentally positive view in regard to the use of period instruments goes along with it.

I can't see why it would be wrong to take a certain artistic view as the foundation of a list. There is also a list called 'HIP recordings'. That list takes a fundamentally positive view towards the historical performance practice. What is wrong about that? It creates the possibility to discuss all aspects of performance practice without having to explain for the umpteenth time why its members take a positive view on HIP.

And considering the fact that most members of the Bach Cantatas list know more about boys' voices than most members on this list - in a considerable number of cases because they are directors of boys' choirs or otherwise professionally involved in the musical education of boys -, they feel - rightly - that it is a waste of time to reply to critics who show they have a very limited knowledge of the matter and are not willing to be corrected by people who clearly know better.

Jim Groeneveld wrote (December 28, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Hi Aryeh and other friends,

It seems I must have touched the right chord while asking for the other list. I do remember the discussions going on about HIP, boys choirs and OVPP. Quite interesting and educational. Apart from the need for a separate list it is a little bit confusing to see another list with about an identical name. Well now I know.

I haven't been reading this list for a few years, though I have remained subscribed (without receiving email contributions), so I have missed some developments. If the traffic on this list stays within limits I will try to follow the discussions again, now I have some more time.

Regards - Jim.
Y. (Jim) Groeneveld, MSc., NL, Statistician, Musician
Jim.Groeneveld_AT_HCCnet.NL (replace _AT_ by AT sign)

My computer and I wish you all a happy New Year.

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