Classical Music with Brian McCreath

Bach's Christmas Oratorio

By Brian McCreath   |   Thursday, December 23, 2010
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Dec. 24

While Handel's Messiah rightly holds its place as this country's classical musical soundtrack for the holiday season (quibble if you will about its Easter message;  there's nothing wrong with talking about Easter at Christmas - just ask Bach!), it's J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio that rings through concert halls throughout Europe at this time of the year.

The six cantatas that make up the Christmas Oratorio, meant to be performed on six separate days throughout the liturgical Christmas season, tell the Christmas story as only Bach could.  With a combination of individual and communal perspective on both the joyful and meditative aspects of the season, it's a piece that always offers performers the chance to find new perspectives, angles, and ways of expressing eternal thoughts and feelings.

If you'd like to hear all six part of the Christmas Oratorio, in a terrific performance led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, feel free to listen to them below.

Part 1 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)

Part 2 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)

Part 3 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)

Part 4 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)

Part 5 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)

Part 6 of the Christmas Oratorio (translation)

One Chorale, Three Masterpieces

Friday, June 10, 2011
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Truth in Bach

Friday, March 8, 2013
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Wispelway and the Enigmatic Fourth Suite

Thursday, January 10, 2013
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Discovery Ensemble in Concert

Sunday, October 7, 2012
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Discovery Ensemble, with Music Director Courtney Lewis, launched its fifth season at Jordan Hall in Boston.

Hear the concert, along with past performances, and learn more about the season:

Courtney LewisDiscovery Ensemble was founded with a dual mission: to present chamber orchestra concerts at the highest possible level of performance, and to take those performances into Boston's schools to invigorate the music education of children.

Artistic Director David St. George and Music Director Courtney Lewis have pursued that mission relentlessly, earning rave reviews and a devoted following in the process.

Classical New England was at Jordan Hall for this season's opening concert on Oct. 21. Hear the concert:

Discovery Ensemble in Concert at Jordan Hall

Classical New England has hosted Discovery Ensemble in our Fraser Performance Studio several times. Those performances can be heard, along with several concert performances of the last four years, in special Sunday Concert presentations:

Copland, Haydn, Stravinsky, and more

Beethoven, Salonen, Debussy, and Copland

In 2010, Courtney Lews appeared on WGBH 2's Greater Boston with Jared Bowen:

Here is the season schedule for Discovery Ensemble:

Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 3:00 PM
(Pre-Concert Conversation at 2:00 PM)
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston

Mozart - Symphony No. 28
Piazzolla - The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
     Joshua Weilerstein, violin
Villa-Lobos - Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9
Bach - Orchestral Suite No. 4

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM
(Pre-Concert Conversation at 2:00 PM)
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge

Bartok - Divertimento
Salonen - Five Images after Sappho
      Karin Wolverton, soprano
Beethoven - Symphony No. 2

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 8:00 PM
(Pre-Concert Conversation at 7:00 PM)
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge

Rossini - Overture to The Barber of Seville
Adams - Chamber Symphony
Stravinsky - Danses concertantes
Haydn - Symphony No. 92

Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM
(Pre-Concert Conversation at 2:00 PM)
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge

Schoenberg - Second Chamber Symphony
Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 4
      Michael McHale, piano
Schumann - Symphony No. 4

Ramin Bahrami and the Power of Bach

Thursday, October 4, 2012
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About the Author
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


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