Mendelssohn's Elijah, with Cantata Singers

Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn (credit James Warren Childe, via Wikimedia Commons)

As part of its celebration of 50 years of concerts in Boston, the Cantata Singers and Music Director David Hoose perform one of the pinnacles of choral-orchestral music: Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah.

Download program notes and a translation of the text of Elijah.

The currents that define the musical life of any city grow out of the fascinations of individual people. In Boston, the citiy's musical identity runs along several threads. The many educational institutions, through performances by both faculty and student musicians, have continually offered stellar chamber music. The Boston Symphony Orchestra performs orchestral music on the highest level. And more than almost any other American city, Boston audiences gravitate towards early music.

And then there is Bach. The composer most central to the formation of Western art music finds traction almost anywhere in the world. But Boston's relationship to Bach is even stronger than most. It was that connection that led to the founding of the Cantata Singers in 1964. Its primary purpose at the outset was the preservation of - as the group's name implies - the sacred cantatas Bach wrote and that, at the time, formed the least explored area of his music.

So as the Cantata Singers planned its celebratory fiftieth anniversary season, Bach remained at the core of the group. The 2013-2014 season opens and closes with Bach, but in between are works and composers that reflect the centrality of Bach in unique ways.

The concert performed on Feb. 22 was devoted to a singular work by the composer most often credited with launching Bach's music into the wider public realm: Mendelssohn. A prolific composer of many different genres of music, Mendelssohn revived Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1829, and it was one of many experiences in which Mendelssohn learned from his predecessor. Those lessons took root in 1846 in Elijah.

David HooseAs Cantata Singers Music Director David Hoose writes in program notes for the concert, The reputation of Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah has fallen, risen, fallen and risen again since August 26, 1846, when 3,000 people gathered in Town Hall in Birmingham, England to hear the latest creation by the famous and beloved composer. ... Today, Elijah, along with the requiems by Mozart, Brahms and Faure´, is considered one of the great choral-orchestra works, and it is music beloved by performers and listeners alike.

Hear Mendelssohn's Elijah in a concert performance by the Cantata Singers and conductor David Hoose on Sunday, April 20, at 5pm on 99.5 WCRB.

Download program notes for complete cast and a translastion of the text.


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