Using text drawn from the gospels according to Luke and Matthew, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio tells the story of the birth of Jesus through to the arrival of the three Wise Men. As with his Passions, Bach hands the role of narrator to an Evangelist, who sings recitatives and provides a continuous narrative, while the soloists’ expressive arias offer an element of reflection and commentary. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir sings the jubilant choruses and richly harmonized Lutheran chorales, all of which bear the hallmark of the Bach’s genius. The chorales are among the most deeply moving parts of the oratorio, and their relative simplicity is intrinsic to the spirit of the work.
Sung in German, the oratorio is divided into six parts, each of which would have been performed at one of the six services held during the celebration of the Twelve Nights of Christmas. Due to the work’s length, a performance of all six cantatas in one evening is impractical, so Tafelmusik has chosen to omit Part IV, and will combine Parts V & VI.
Ivars Taurins joins writer and lecturer Rick Phillips
for a talk about Bach’s Christmas Oratorio
on November 25 from 2 to 4 PM. This presentation is part of a two-session course taught by Phillips offered by the Royal Conservatory. For more information, visit their website
As part of Tafelmusik’s Baroque Mentors
series, James Gilchrist will give a public Guest Artist Masterclass
on Saturday, December 5 from 1 to 3 PM. Admission to the masterclass is free, with a suggested donation of $10. At intermission that evening, the Tafelscene
35 & Under programme will host a party — part of Tafelmusik’s ongoing initiatives to attract younger and more diverse audiences. These popular get-togethers are a chance for young audience members to mingle with Tafelmusik musicians while enjoying wine and snacks. For more information about Tafelscene, visit the website
Tafelmusik continues the Yuletide theme with its annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah, December 16 to 19, and Sing-Along Messiah on December 20.