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A Peaceful Celebration

12/09/2012 -  
Johann Sebastian Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium, BWV 248
Cornelia Horak (soprano), Barbara Hölzl (mezzosoprano), Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor), Günter Haumer (bass)
Wiener Singakademie, Barucco, Heinz Ferlesch (conductor)

Konzerthaus Vienna (© Konzerthaus Vienna)

Sitting in a huge concert hall and singing with over a thousand complete strangers can be a truly wonderful and peaceful experience. Was it a coincidence that the Konzerthaus Vienna chose Hanukkah for their first ever Bach Christmas Oratorio Sing-Along? Whether you believe in the Christmas Story or not: this was an unforgettable afternoon at the Konzerthaus.

Sing-Along events are still relatively new to European concert halls. As part of their music outreach program “Unisono”, this was the first Sing-Along of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at the Konzerthaus. The whole audience was invited to join in the chorales of the first three cantatas of the oratorio.

The extraordinarily well-prepared choir ”Wienersingakademie” joined forces with the period instrument ensemble Barucco under its founder and artistic director Heinz Ferlesch. Ferlesch and his musicians offered a refreshingly vibrant reading of Bach’s beloved masterpiece. Barucco’s wind instruments were excellent. The outstanding musician of the evening was without any doubt the 1st trumpeter: he played the notoriously difficult solo trumpet part in the aria Grosser Herr, o starker König on a natural trumpet with the utmost elegance and virtuosity.

The vocal soloists Cornelia Horak, Barbara Hölzl, Hans Jörg Mammel and Günter Haumer performed with alacrity. Hans Jörg Mammel was a convincing evangelist. His coloratura aria Frohe Hirten was masterful even in Ferlesch’s quick tempo.

And last but not least: the audience. We sang our hearts out in the chorales. At the outset of the concert we were invited to choose our seats according to our vocal ranges. I chose to join the altos – and I must say: we altos rocked! Similar sing-alongs could only enormously benefit the concert scene. We need more such peaceful celebrations.

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Wiebke Kuester



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