The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Wisconsin Chamber Choir will “wake up” listeners with a popular Bach Cantata and several other works at a holiday concert this Friday night. Plus, the Madison Opera gets an NEA grant to help stage Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking” in the spring.

December 18, 2013
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NEWS: The Madison Opera has news to announce: It has been awarded a grant of $15,000 in the first round of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Fiscal Year 2014 funding. It is one of 895 nonprofit organizations nationwide – and one of only 34 opera companies – to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The grant will help support the Madison Opera’s Upper Midwest premiere production of Jake Heggie’s opera “Dead Man Walking” on April 25 and 27, 2014. The Ear sends hearty congratulations!

By Jacob Stockinger 

The Wisconsin Chamber Choir (below top) will perform the program “Wake, Awake” featuring Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata No. 140 on this Friday, December 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church (below bottom is the acoustically superior interior)  on the corner of West Washington Avenue at Carroll Street on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison.

Wisconsin Chamber Choir 1

MBM Grace altar

The concert of choral music will usher in the holiday season with J. S. Bach’s most famous cantata, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (“Wake, Awake, a Voice is Calling”), featuring some of the most beloved melodies by Bach (below). You can hear it in a YouTube video at the bottom.


Appearing with the WCC in this work is a stellar cast of soloists and Sinfonia Sacra, the WCC’s own professional orchestra.

Additional highlights of the concert include a set of hauntingly beautiful carols by Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus (below) and a new, visionary setting of O magnum mysterium by Juilliard School of Music composer Wayne Oquin.

stephen paulus

Further music for Advent and Christmas by Heinrich Schütz (bel0w), Gottfried Homilius (a student of Bach), William Mathias and  William Dawson round out the program, and a vocal Jazz arrangement of Go,Tell It On the Mountain brings the evening to a rousing close.

Heinrich Schutz

Advance tickets are available for $10 for students, and $15 for adults from, via Brown Paper Tickets; or at our local retail partners: Willy Street Coop East and West, and Orange Tree Imports.

Founded in 1999, the Madison-based Wisconsin Chamber Choir has established a reputation for excellence in the performance of oratorios by Bach, Mozart, and Haydn; a cappella masterworks from various centuries; and world-premieres. Robert Gehrenbeck (below) is the Wisconsin Chamber Choir’s Artistic Director.

Robert Gehrenbeck

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