Final Baroque Sunday With Free Performances For All the Family
Wayne Marshall to Perform Bach’s Sacred Music on St John’s Co-Cathedral’s organ and two Toi Toi events on the Teatru Manoel’s Stage for the young audience.
On Sunday 20th January, at 15.00 hrs, the main organ at St John’s Co-Cathedral will become the absolute protagonist at the hands of Wayne Marshall with an organ recital featuring four distinct works by Johann Sebastian Bach. This event, free to the public, forms part of the second and final Baroque Sunday as part of the ongoing Valletta International Baroque Festival 2013.
Johann Sebastian Bach was renowned for his good character and he was a highly spiritual person. His religious faith is very openly indicated in most of his works, with an “S.D.G.” written in small letters on his manuscript scores. These letters stand for “Soli Dei Gloria” meaning “Only to the glory of God.” By doing this Bach oﬀered his work for the glory of God because basically he believed that God should come ﬁrst, and not man’s self-gratiﬁcation and pride. Christians should be motivated and inspired by God’s glory, not their own.
His Little Organ Book is a combination of organ music for church services, a treatise on composition, a pedagogical manual and profession of faith. Even here he ended his introductory note thus:
“In honour of Our Lord alone
That my fellow man his skill may hone.”
Bach wrote dozens and dozens of sacred cantatas, which far outnumber his secular ones. He also wrote several Masses, including the great Mass in B minor, which he ﬁnally fashioned into completion over a long period of time. His Passions according to St. John and St. Matthew are not only considered among the best of his own sacred works, but also among the greatest of all baroque sacred music. The Magniﬁcat, Christmas and Easter oratorios are among his masterpieces while a large number of hymns and sacred chorales are still sung in all Christian churches.
When he moved to Leipzig in 1723 Bach was appointed Cantor of the Thomasschule at the church of St. Thomas. He was also to be Director of Music in the city’s principal churches, St. Nicholas and the Paulinerkirche of the University. He was thus responsible for the performance of all sacred music, training of the church choirs and composing chorales based on Gospel readings of the day and organ music to be performed during services. A great number of his betterknown Preludes and Fugues and other works for organ, belong to Bach’s second period of residence in Weimar from 1708 to 1717 when he was in service at the local ducal Court.
The technical skill and ingeniousness in these works are far from the humdrum output of a composer who was writing “to order” week in, week out. They are magniﬁcent works of musical architecture which perforce lift one’s thoughts to a higher, sublime source of inspiration.
This concert is bound to be very interesting also for the fact that Wayne Marshall will be improvising upon each original work immediately after it has been performed. Having an organist improvising an entire Bach organ recital is considered as rather uncommon for an entire Bach organ recital to have the organist. Therefore, the well-honed skill displayed by a worthy organist is an added source of wonder and inspiration.
Wayne Marshall travels worldwide as a conductor, virtuoso organist and solo pianist. A renowned interpreter of Gershwin, Bernstein, Ellington and other 20th century American composers, he became Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in September 2007. He is a regular performer in the BBC Proms in London as organist, pianist and conductor and has played in many of the world’s top recital venues.
As in last weekend’s edition, this coming Sunday 20th January will also feature another two Toi Toi Baroque Bonanza sessions on Teatru Manoel’s main stage at 10.30hrs and 14.30hrs this time featuring Simon Abdilla Joslin on the cello, Gjorgji Cinsievski on Double Bass, Daniel Cauchi on Percussion and Ramona Zammit Formosa on the Harpsichord.
These two workshops led by Rosetta Debattista, will again feature the dancers from the School of Performing Arts at the University of Malta and will explore the life and music of Antonio Vivaldi in some unconventional and interesting ways, using mainly his sonatas as a backdrop for this interactive experience. Children attending these free Toi Toi sessions will be seated on the main stage of Teatru Manoel and will be able to enjoy the thrill of being on stage and so close to the musicians performing live music!
Entrance to all the performances on both Baroque Sundays is free of charge but it is recommended that the public affects a reservation to these performances by contacting Teatru Manoel’s booking office on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 21 246389.