The Knox Music Series presents J.S. Bach’s glorious Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248) at Knox Presbyterian Church, 3400 Michigan Avenue, on Sunday afternoon, December 10. The public is invited, and there is no admission charge.
The complete Christmas Oratorio will be presented in two concert sessions – Parts I, II, and III at 2:00 p.m. and Parts IV, V, and VI at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the 2:00 p.m. concert, or the 4:30 p.m. concert, or the entire work. Light refreshments will be served at the Interval between the two concert sessions from 3:45 – 4:15 p.m.
* 2:00 – 3:45 p.m. Parts I, II, and III
Part I: The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1, 3-7)
Part II: The Annunciation the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-14)
Part III: The Adoration of the Shepherds (Luke 2:15-20)
* 3:45 – 4:15 p.m. Refreshments in the Knox Commons
* 4:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. Parts IV, V, and VI
Part IV: The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus (Luke 2:21)
Part V: The Journey of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-6)
Part VI: The Adoration of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:7-12)
Featured are the 50-voice Knox Choir and Knox Soloists under the direction of Earl Rivers, Knox Director of Music. Knox Soloists include Erin Keesy and Jackie Stevens, sopranos, Ellen Graham and Debra Templeman, mezzo sopranos, Andrew Jones and Matthew Swope, tenors, and Thomas Dreeze, John Potvin, and Michael Young, baritones. Guest Artist Daniel Weeks, tenor, sings the role of the Evangelist. Playing continuo will be Knox Organist Christina Haan on the continuo organ and guest artist Michael Unger on harpsichord. Matthew Swope, Knox Choir Assistant Conductor, will conduct Part III. Each of the six Parts is about 25 minutes. The work will be sung in the original German, with a complete English translation projected on eight screens placed throughout the Knox sanctuary.
About the Christmas Oratorio:
The Christmas Oratorio and Part I of G.F. Handel’s Messiah represent the most splendid musical offerings for the Christmas season from the Baroque period’s two most important composers – J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel. During the two-week period of the 1734-1735 Christmas/Epiphany season, Bach’s festive Christmas Oratorio was first presented in Leipzig as a series of six cantatas in worship services over six days – Christmas Day and the following two days, New Year’s Day, Sunday after New Year’s Day, and Epiphany. The Knox Music Series gave the first documented complete performance in Cincinnati of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in 1985, the 300th anniversary year of the birth of J.S. Bach, presenting Parts I, II, and III on January 6, 1985 and Parts IV, V, and VI on January 13, 1985. Knox repeated complete performances of the Christmas Oratorio in the Christmas seasons of 1988, 1992, 2011, and 2019 and in several other seasons has offered excerpts of the work.
About the Knox Music Series:
The Knox Music Series is an outreach program of Knox Presbyterian Church presenting sacred choral/orchestral masterworks and organ concertos. Recognized for its outstanding contributions to the quality of life in Cincinnati, Cincinnati Magazine has cited the Knox Music Program as the “Best Church Music” in Cincinnati.