Short instrumentation: 1 1 1 1 - 1 0 0 0, perc, pno, str
Choir: mixed choir
clarinet in Bb
horn in F
violin I (5 players)
violin II (5 players)
viola (3 players)
violoncello (2 players)
Aaron Altergemischter Chor (Earth Cantata (inspired by the Cantatas of J.S. Bach)) Available digitally
Earth Cantata is inspired by the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. While there are no direct quotes of Bach's music in Earth Cantata, it uses the form of Bach's sacred cantatas as a starting point and embraces their deep spiritual and emotional weight and richness, while fusing influences of Jazz, Rock and Pop music in a unique and fresh way. The text is a poetic interpretation of the biblical Psalm 66 by the Elizabethan poet Mary Sidney Herbert, from around the year 1599. Earth Cantata is in five movements.
The first movement is a Fantasy on an original chorale for chorus and the entire ensemble that evokes Bach while adding a Rock-inspired undertone.
The second movement, which begins without a pause from the first movement, is a Fantasy on Bach's "Art of Fugue" theme for chorus and the entire ensemble. Bach's theme provides the momentum for a Rock-inspired musical journey.
The third and fourth movements feature individual voices with a wind instrument serving as counterpoint, similar to the way that Bach orchestrated the arias in many of his cantatas. The third movement is an aria for Soprano that uses the oboe as counterpoint to the Soprano voice. It resembles a Bach aria, but transitions into more modern territory.
The fourth movement, with the subtitle, "Find Bach!" is a duet for Tenor and Bass that features the flute and shows both Bach's influence as well as the influence of Modern Jazz. If you listen closely in the fourth movement, you'll hear Bach's last name played (in German traditional musical nomenclature, B is used to represent B-flat and H is used to represent B-natural, so Bach would be represented as B-flat, A, C, B-natural.)
The fifth movement is a repeat of the first movement with a more final ending. Bach often repeated the first movement of his cantatas to balance out the work and ended his sacred cantatas with a chorale also, so the Fantasy on an Original Chorale fits perfectly.
The performance in the video and audio selections is by The New Mexico Bach Society Chorale and Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Franz Vote.
The timeline location of each movement of Earth Cantata in the video is below:
00:00 - 1st Movement (Fantasy on an Original Chorale)
05:56 - 2nd Movement (Fantasy on The Art of Fugue Theme)
18:12 - 3rd Movement (Aria for Soprano)
24:06 - 4th Movement (Find Bach!, Duet for Tenor and Bass)
32:16 - 5th Movement (Fantasy on an Original Chorale)
What is necessary to perform this work?
The string section numbers are flexible. The world premiere was performed with one player per part, but I think that the ideal amount would be up to five first violins, up to five second violins, up to three violas, up to two celli and one double-bass. You can choose the number of string players to fit your ensemble.
The Double-Bass should be amplified at least in the 2nd movement, so that the pizzicato throughout the movement is not drowned out by the entire ensemble. Amplification is recommended also in the 4th movement, where the Double-Bass plays pizzicato throughout. Amplification of the Double-Bass is optional in the other movements, where the double-bass plays with the bow primarily and blends in with the rest of the strings. A noiseless foot switch or volume pedal is recommended when switching between amplified and non-amplified modes so that there could be no disruption of the sound.
In the first, second and fifth movements, if the Double-Bass is a 4-string instrument with an extension or is a 5-string instrument, please play the lower note in parentheses in the part.