At the beginning of next month, Cappella SF will return to Mission Dolores Basilica to give the first San Francisco performance of its 2016–2017 season. Artistic Director Ragnar Bohlin has prepared a program entitled Immortal Fire, which will couple the music of Johann Sebastian Bach with the works of composers from the present and preceding centuries. The selections will alternate between a cappella works and compositions for mixed chorus with organ accompaniment. The organist will be Jerome Lenk.
The program will begin with the one Bach composition, the BWV 227 motet Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, my joy). This eleven-movement stanza-by-stanza setting of a hymn text by Johann Franck based on a melody by Johann Crüger may well be Bach’s most familiar a cappella work. In addition, as John Eliot Gardiner demonstrated so well in the booklet notes he prepared for his Erato recording of the motets, BWV 227 is a composition that involves an almost mind-boggling complex of symmetries, all of which Gardiner managed to summarize in a single diagram:
The symmetries in BWV 227 (based on John Eliot Gardiner's booklet for his Erato recording ECD 88117)
Following the Bach performance the pendulum will swing to the opposite extreme on the timeline with the world premiere of “Sic transit gloria mundi” (thus passes the glory of the world), also composed for a cappella choir by Mark Volkert. The remaining a cappella work on the program will be Benjamin Britten’s Opus 42, “Hymn to St. Cecilia,” composed in 1942 and based on a poem written for him by W. H. Auden. The compositions for chorus and organ will be Arvo Pärt’s setting of the Marian anthem “Salve Regina” (hail, holy queen) and Jonathan Dove’s “Seek him that Maketh the Seven Stars.” Lenk will precede these two compositions with a performance of Maurice Duruflé’s Opus 7 “Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain” (which was also composed in 1942). The name is significant in the history of French organists, since it refers not only to Albert, who was both organist and composer, but also to three of his children, Jehan, Olivier, and Marie-Claire (who studied harmony at the Paris Conservatory with Duruflé).
This concert will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 2. Mission Dolores is located on the southwest corner of 16th Street and Dolores Street. General admission will be $35 with a discounted rate of $15 for students and VIP seating for $55. Tickets may be purchased online in advance through an Eventbrite event page.