Click here to see the slides and photos from Pastor Costello's September 27 Adult Ed presentation about his sabbatical.
Pastor Costello's trip to Leipzig
From Pastor Michael D. Costello, Cantor at Grace
I would like to tell you about my travels to Leipzig, Germany, this summer, where Bach composed most of his church cantatas during the years he was Cantor at the Thomaskirche. I spent two weeks in June listening to some of the finest early music ensembles in the world performing at the Leipzig Bach Festival and I was also able to study some of Bach's manuscripts in the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig.
An important part of this year's Festival was the return of the famous 1748 Hausmann portrait of Bach to Leipzig. A print of this portrait hangs in the music library at Grace and reminds us how closely knit we are to the great tradition of sacred music around the world. The photo shows the ceremonial unveiling of the portrait. Read more about its travels and its return to Leipzig here.
Another highlight of my time in Leipzig was meeting Georg Christoph Biller, who was the Cantor at the Leipzig Thomaskirche for 23 years before resigning in January due to health reasons. Biller is the 16th Thomaskantor since Johann Sebastian Bach. When I spoke with him, he was delighted to hear of our ministry at Grace and thanked us for holding him in prayer. I attended the city of Leipzig ceremony which officially relieved Dr. Biller from his responsibilities. The church and city plan to announce the appointment of a new Cantor around Easter.
I had an opportunity to play the four-manual Bach Organ in the Thomaskirche. Built in the year 2000 for the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, the stop list of the organ is the same as an organ from Bach’s youth. On this organ we come very close to hearing what it is that Bach would have heard when he played his works. Due to excessive dust and pollution, the organ will be undergoing an extensive cleaning in the year ahead.
My study time in the Bach-Archiv for three days prior to the Bach Festival was productive. I had the opportunity to look at the original choral and orchestral parts to Bach cantatas #140, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (photo), and #91, Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ. I learned a great deal about Bach’s own process for composing, copying, and even performing his cantatas.
Thank you for your continued support of the Bach Cantata Vespers ministry at Grace.
Pastor Michael D. Costello