European Tour 2014

OTTAWA — Coming to Leipzig to hear Bach is a pilgrimage, especially during the annual Bachfest in June. And singing in the Thomaskirche, the church from which Bach performed his functions as the city’s music director, is clearly an experience like no other especially for the Ottawa Bach Choir and its founder, Lisette Canon.

The intensity of their rehearsing over the last couple of days has been exhausting for this observer, and I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for those actually doing it. “You didn’t come all this way to do it almost right” was the leitmotif of Canton’s every-note-counts direction.

The choir came here by way of Venice where they sang Mass in the San Marco Cathedral on Sunday and gave a Monday concert in the San Polo Church. The following day a water taxi, two Air Berlin flights and a two-hour bus ride brought them to a hotel just a few blocks from the Thomaskirche.

The choir had been here before and knew what to expect of the performing space, so the initial rehearsals, energetic though they were, could take place in a hotel conference room. Rehearsals in the church were further inspired by its splendid acoustics.

There are about 35 people on the tour, the musicians and about a dozen groupies. Some of the latter attended other events like one by the resident Thomaschor or the Capella Cracoviensis from Poland. There was even Haydn’s Creation in the Gewandhaus, with its famous orchestra, conducted by Masaaki Suzuki. Some of the OBC singers also attended events like these while others relaxed and enjoyed some of the very numerous galleries, shops and restaurants in the vicinity.

The music the choir sang on Friday was all familiar to Ottawa audiences. It included Gabrieli’s Jubilate Deo, Bach’s motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied and works by Schuetz and Buxtehude. They were accompanied by the Leipzig Baroque Consort and Ottawa’s Jennifer Loveless played the continuo organ, all under Canton’s direction. The singing was book-ended by two large-organ performances, a Bach Prelude and a Toccata by Buxtehude.

I wouldn’t want to sugxgest that the OBC does anything less than its very best for the folks back home, not at all. And yet they sounded special indeed on Friday, in a way that one seldom hears in Ottawa or anywhere else.

On Saturday a four-hour bus ride will take the choir and company to Lubeck where they will sing in Buxtehude’s church, thence to Groningen and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and finally home.

Ottawa Bach Choir Sings at Leipzig Bachfest – in Bach’s Church

Ottawa Bach Choir, Lisette Canton, conductor; Jennifer Loveless, continuo organ

With Organists Martin Petzoldt ans Stefan Kiessling and the Leipzig Baroque Consort

Friday in the Thomaskirche, Leipzig

Copyright © 2024 Ottawa Bach Choir. All Rights Reserved. Ottawa web design VanquishLA