Music students performed in the McElroy Lobby of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 as part of the Northern Iowa Bach Cantata Series.
The brief performance featured both vocalists and instrumentalists performing Bach’s “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben, BWV 77.” The church cantata was first performed in 1723, according to the show program.
“BWV 77 is one of the greats,” John Wiles addressed the crowd before the performance. “And it’s turned to often to discuss Bach’s prowess in writing and trying to think theologically.”
The six-movement cantata began and concluded with a chorus, with two arias and two recitatives featuring soloists Madeleine Hartleip (soprano), Lauren Leman (mezzo soprano), Tim Steele (tenor) and Randy Everding (bass). Bach based the first chorus on a certain gospel text, Wiles said.
“In the text, there’s a man that comes up to Jesus, and he says, ‘What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?’” Wiles said. “And Jesus replies, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind,’ and so forth.”
Wiles also shared that Bach set the text to a popular Martin Luther hymn speaking of the ten commandments.
“And so, what Bach was doing is trying to unwrap Jesus’ statement within the concept of law,” he said. “It’s often remarked in books — that I imagine you might want to keep by the fireside — about Bach’s ability to think theologically as a composer.”
Several divisions of the UNI School of Music collaborate to make the Northern Iowa Bach Cantata Series possible. It will soon be nearing its 60th performance at UNI’s campus, according to Wiles. The next performance in the series will take place in the GBPAC Lobby at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, March 6.