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Leipzig Cantata Project

Snacks but No Sermon

Leipzig cantataThe Leipzig Cantata Project aims to build new audiences for Bach cantata performances by presenting full Bach cantatas with full period instrument orchestra with wine, snacks, and an engaging guest speaker who can give historical/liturgical/spiritual context to bring this text alive for anyone, regardless of religious beliefs.

We believe that building new audiences starts with never skimping on artistic values. Our performances feature the leading, established experts in the field of period performance, such as John Thiessen (recently profiled in the New York Times and a professor at Juilliard) and Elizabeth Blumenstock (very familiar to local audiences and also a professor at Juilliard and concertmaster at major baroque orchestras). Our oboist, Steve Hammer, has performed with leading groups around the country and made 200 recordings. These fantastically engaging musicians lead an ensemble consisting of local established and emerging artists to create engaging and memorable artistic experiences.

The culinary aspect to our events is inspired by similar presentations by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto, which presented highly successful concerts for young people that included food and drink. People of all ages love to eat and enjoy wine, and we hope that integrating these into a Bach cantata experience will mean a totally new level of engagement from audiences future and present.

The texts of Bach cantatas were considered even more important than the music. However, present-day audiences, which might be Christian, another religion, atheist, or “merely spiritual,” may not immediately relate to these texts. Our guest speaker (TBA) will help the audience understand the historical context (i.e., what this text meant to baroque audiences) and find present-day context (what this text could mean to any audience member, regardless of religious affiliation).

The result is a multisensory, inspirational, emotionally fulfilling performance. Combined with low ticket prices of $20, made possible through generous donations of snacks from Gaumenkitzel and wine from WineWise (all tickets include German wine from WineWise and German snacks from Gaumenkitzel), the Leipzig Cantata Project hopes to help build new audiences that feel the same intense passion for this music that we artists do.

The Leipzig Cantata Project presents three full Bach cantatas with fabulous trumpet parts, BWV 5, 43, and 90, on August 16 at 8:00 p.m., in San Francisco’s Calvary Presbyterian Church, 2515 Fillmore St. (at Jackson). Featured performers John Thiessen, trumpet; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; and Steve Hammer, oboe, are joined by Katherine Heater, harpsichord; Clio Tilton, viola; Ben Kazez, baritone; Lindsey Lang, mezzo soprano; Jennifer Paulino, soprano; Holly Piccoli, violin; Frédéric Rosselet, cello; and Kyle Stegall, tenor.

Tickets, $20–$75, are available online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leipzig-cantata-project-tickets-26400254873. You can donate to the project at https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=14458. For more information, visit their web site: http://www.benkazez.com/leipzig.

Written by Jonathan Harris