San Jose Symphonic Choir, conducted by Leroy Kromm, will present Johann Sebastian Bach’s extraordinary “Mass in B Minor,” on March 25, at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 13601 Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga, at 4 p.m.
Johann Sebastian Bach produced a prodigious amount of music over his long career. The Mass in B Minor was one of his last compositions, completed in 1749, the year before his death. It is comprised of an extraordinarily wide range of material, ideas, and information, from the use of ancient Gregorian chant to precursors of modern classicism. Many believe Bach compiled the Mass as a summation of his life’s work.
In 1685, Central Europe was on the cusp of the Age of Enlightenment – politics were complicated, and influenced by philosophical divides between Catholic and Protestant powers. The Thirty Years War, a devastating struggle for the balance of power in central Europe, had just ended. Bach was born into this environment, and raised in the town of Eisenach, in Thuringia. Members of the Bach family throughout Thuringia held positions as organists, instrumentalists, or music directors, and the family enjoyed a wide reputation for musical talent.
Johann Sebastian, trained as a singer, violinist, harpsichordist, and organist, was already employed as a musician by the time he was 17 years old. His career stretched over nearly 50 years, thus being influenced by changes in musical styles as well as the changes in philosophy associated with the Enlightenment.
Bach’s working life can be divided into an early period, from 1703 to 1723, during which he moved several times and held a variety of positions, and his years in Leipzig, from 1723 until his death in 1750. In the last 27 years of his life he lived in Leipzig and worked as Music and Choir Director at the Thomas School and Church.
The assembling of the Mass in B Minor as it is known today occurred during a prolific period at the end of his life, between 1740 and 1750. Bach’s creative energy during this period produced some of the most profound statements of baroque musical form. There is little doubt that one of the reasons for his creation of the Mass was to leave a legacy piece for posterity, especially in light of the fact that tastes in music were turning away from the baroque arts of fugue and counterpoint, toward the more informal style of the rococo and classical periods.
Ticket information: General, $30 in advance, $35 at the door, Seniors/Students/Military $25 in advance, $30 at the door; children under 12 are free. Discounted ticket prices are available until Saturday March 24. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information visit the Choir’s website, www.sanjosesymphonicchoir.org.