Oxton hosts Liverpool Bach Collective

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Liverpool Bach Collective recently opened its 2019-2020 cycle of cantatas at St Saviour’s Church, Oxton.

The ensemble was formed in 2013 and aims to produce performances of J.S.Bach’s cantatas in churches in and around Liverpool as part of a Sunday service of Evensong or Vespers.

The Collective is directed by Philip Duffy, formerly Master of the Music at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral who approached St Saviour’s church at the beginning of the year with a view to opening the new cycle of cantatas.

The service was formed of Evensong, with the Collective beginning the cantata after the conclusion of the collects. 

The work performed was Under Mund sei voll Lachens (May our mouths be full of laughter) written by Bach for performance on Christmas Day in 1725 and performed twice on that day in Leipzig – once in the Nicolaikirche and again at the Thomaskirche.

The Oxton performance was as close as it probably would have been performed at a Lutheran service.  The large congregation, some of whom had travelled many miles to attend the event, sang the chorale upon which the cantata is based as the opening hymn.  The four-part choir, four soloists and an orchestra of trumpets, timpani, traverse flutes, oboes, oboe d-amore, bassoons, strings and chamber organ performed the work in the latter part of the service.

Speaking after the service, the Vicar of Oxton, the Rev Dr Joe Kennedy said: “It was a delightful and very moving service, especially as this performance was possibly very similar to the way the Lutheran Church would have run their service.

“The standard of musicianship was extremely high and this as a wonderful way to praise God through music on a beautiful summer’s evening.”

Bach wrote 200 sacred cantatas for use in church services as well as a further 16 secular compositions for events such as wedding celebrations, academic events, the inauguration of a town council, anniversaries and celebrations for nobility and society as well as one piece in praise of coffee.