Monday, May 21 , 2018, 5:48 am | Overcast 52º


SBCO and Quire Of Voyces Perform Handel, Bach

Ensemble collaboration features soprano Christina Wilcox and tenor Jonathan Mack.


[Editor’s note: The Quire of Voyces-Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra concert is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. An earlier version of the story below was incorrect.]

Santa Barbara City College’s outstanding vocal ensemble Quire of Voyces, under the direction of its founder, Nathan J. Kreitzer, will repeat its potent collaboration with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, conducted by music director Heiichiro Ohyama, in a concert Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church.


Soprano Christina Wilcox and tenor Jonathan Mack will be the soloists for George Frederick Handel’s setting of Psalm 100, "Dixit Dominus," and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata No. 48, "Ich elender Mensch."

Both ensembles will desert their traditional venues — Quire, St. Anthony’s Seminary; SBCO, the Lobero Theatre — for First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, a compromise between the Quire’s standard 7 p.m. opening and SBCO’s 8 p.m. opening. Tickets can be obtained from the Chamber Orchestra Box Office at 805.966.2441.

Handel wrote the "Dixit Dominus" in 1707 on his first sojourn in Rome. He was 22 and a Protestant, but he was immediately taken up by Catholic Roman society, including the princes of the church. Cardinals wrote librettos for him. The "Dixit Dominus" is a brilliant, spectacular showpiece, demonstrating his complete and precocious mastery of the flowing Italian style, which he never later abandoned, even when he had settled in England and resumed working for the Elector of Hanover, who had since become King George I.

The 209 existing Bach Cantatas comprise a unique and inexhaustible body of sublime compositions for voices and instrumental ensembles. Most were written for specific religious occasions, but a handful are not even settings of sacred texts and were intended for secular entertainments.

The Cantata No. 48, however, was written for the 19th Sunday after Trinity, and is an imaginative and highly emotional setting of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 7, Verse 24: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" ("Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen."

Although it may seem incongruous — not to say blasphemous — many of Bach’s most profound sacred works have dance movements, and this cantata, composed in 1723, is no exception. The first movement is a gorgeous sarabande. Perhaps Bach would have seconded Haydn’s reply when criticized for the music of his masses being too happy-sounding: "Since it has pleased God to give me a cheerful disposition, I don’t think he can object to my serving him cheerfully."

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