Together with Cappella Amsterdam, LUDWIG will open the Dordrecht Bach Festival with a spectacular concert on the theme of the festival: light. After a summons from the wind instruments, the singers will take the audience by the hand and enter the church singing, for a joint performance of Kate Moore’s Eclipsed Vision. This will be followed by an exciting musical journey through time and space with music by Bach – as a shining example – and contemporary compositions on earthly and heavenly light.
In late June, Johann Sebastian Bach will be the shining focus of the Dordrecht Bach Festival. ‘The opening concert by LUDWIG and Cappella Amsterdam will immediately introduce all the facets of a new and varied festival,’ says artistic director Marieke Hopman. ‘These two leading ensembles will combine new compositions with works by Bach and contemporaries, like a rubber band stretched between the present and the past. The compositions will all be related to the theme of “light”, and listeners will be actively involved in the concert.’
The word ‘light’ will be broadly interpreted in the programming of the festival. First of all it refers to the natural phenomenon ‘that makes objects visible, whether it comes from the sun or from any other celestial body, or from any burning object’, to quote a dictionary definition. LUDWIG and Cappella Amsterdam have selected three works by contemporary composers inspired by unusual light phenomena: Kate Moore plays with shadow and eclipse, John Luther Adams paints a musical portrait of the ‘sun dogs’ that appear when the sun shines through ice crystals, and György Ligeti pays tribute to eternal light. The musicians end up in Gabriel Fauré’s heavenly paradise.
In the spiritual works that Bach wrote for the Church, ‘light’ takes on a religious meaning. Candlemas is a Christian festival celebrated on 2 February. It commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the temple, the day on which Jesus was described as the of the World – a recurring theme in Bach’s cantatas and motets. There are two splendid examples in the opening concert: the motet O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, and an aria from the cantata Ich habe genug, which Bach wrote for Candlemas in Leipzig on 2 February 1727.
The festival also focuses on Bach as a ‘shining example’. To this day composers are inspired by his musical genius, and he himself drew inspiration from such predecessors as Claudio Monteverdi and Giovanni Gabrieli. Johannes Brahms’s Warum ist das licht gegeben is full of elaborate harmonies referring back to Bach’s art of counterpoint, but the motet also contains romantic colours and dynamics, in a fusion of styles that transcends the centuries.
(text by the Dutch violinist and writer Noortje Zanen)