Before Bach and After – A series of four concerts

Chamber Choir Ireland and Artistic Director will embark on an ambitious series of four programmes spread across the 2018-19 season in which the complete motets of Bach will be presented together with related works by Brahms, Schütz, and a variety of medieval and contemporary composers. The concerts in this series will take place in Kilkenny, Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Limerick. 



A note from Paul Hillier.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s motets enjoy a special kind of status in the choral repertoire. They contain sophisticated, almost self-consciously brilliant music of high quality and rich invention; they also make virtuoso demands of any vocalists who dare to perform them! At times it can seem as if their very eminence has isolated them so that as musical works they appear to be floating in a genre of their own making. Yet it is a porous identity, for there are other works or bits of works by Bach that claim our attention, and while although composed only seven motets and a handful of arrangements, there are over two hundred cantatas. Are those seven really so special? In fact, I believe they are, and just as orchestras like to push themselves by presenting a cycle of, say, the nine Beethoven symphonies, so we in our more intimate domain felt inspired to present a cycle of Bach motets. But we also aim in this series of four concerts to place them in a wider historical context and examine just what a ‘motet’ has been and what it might be today: both before Bach, therefore, and after.

Paul Hillier 2018

This is an excerpt from a specially written essay on the series which will be available for purchase at concert venues throughout the Before Bach and After series.