Bach Society Christmas Concert Deeply Moving!

By Henry C. Mayer

Louisville's Bach Society's Christmas Concert was a singular triumph for all involved. A musical "double-header," the Society opened with Bach's inspiring presentation of Mary of Nazareth's Magnificat (see Luke's Chapter 1). Both soloists and chorus displayed talent and industrious preparation. One cannot quite forget that this response of Mary to Gabriel's invitation is what made Christmas possible. As long as this piece is played, Bach's music can do much to help people truly prepare for the joy that only Christmas brings. And as long as Louisville has the Bach Society, hearing this piece can take us on a "musical pilgrimage."

After intermission, the Society once again gave the audience the unforgettable presentation of Handel's Messiah, Part I. John Hale's program notes were as informative as they are unforgettable. The beauty of Handel's work, he told us, includes the fact that when Handel wrote The Messiah, he was unemployed, financially ruined and in broken health. Yet he finished it in twenty-four days. Premiered in Dublin the next spring, it drew such crowds that it revived his career. It has been inspiring audiences ever since.

A few words about the many kinds of sounds from this concert. Special mention should be made of the soloists. They put all they are into what they sing. The Bach and Handel pieces are demanding but soloists are up to it – and then some. Moreover, a careful listening will reveal the harmony between soloists and chorus – sheer beauty.

One also realizes how much effort Melvin Dickerson must put in the selection and preparation of these concerts. One cannot forget that his wife's playing on the organ is a singular addition to them. The sounds of a Bach Society concert are a different type of sound, even from other kinds of classical music. They can help the listener realize the reality of the subjects about which the music speaks. One can find a joy that one finds nowhere else. This music can even tell the listener something fresh about himself or herself – and also something about creation.