(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Arias from Anna Magdalena’s Notebook as well as major organ works from Bach’s Little Organ Book, and a Trio Sonata and the celebrated Pièce d’Orgue will be performed as part of The Inner World of Feeling: Organ and Vocal Music of J.S. Bach on Sunday, February 12, 2012, at 4pm at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (67 East St.), in a concert presented by Berkshire Bach featuring organist Christa Rakich and soprano Miranda Bergmeier.
The program in intended to paint an aural picture of Bach’s world and faith, highlighting the personal drama of his music as it depicts profound joy and deepest sorrow. At its center are the chorales and settings of the Passiontide and Easter sections of his Orgelbüchlein, or “Little Organ Book.” Each chorale will be sung (7 for Passiontide and 6 for Easter) before Bach’s descriptive arrangement is played.
Also included in the program is Bach’s Pièce d’Orgue, BWV 572, the only work which he titled in French. Its three movements are also in French, Très vitement, Gravement, Lentement. The Trio Sonata #1 in E-flat, BWV 525, the first of 6 Sonatas in which the player assumes the role of an ensemble, will also be performed, the hands playing the parts of treble instruments while the feet assume the bass line.
Organist Christa Rakich says this about the program: “ ‘The Inner World of Feeling’ is a phrase from noted Bach biographer Phillip Spitta. As I grow more immersed in the music of Bach, and try to explain its structure, its sense, to others, I find there is something ineffable about it. How does it move us so? We can talk about harmony, word painting, the importance of religious texts, the elegance of his style, but all that amounts to nipping around the edges. It gives us a broader base from which to explore, but there’s something so sublime about the inherent sense of this music. At the same time it can express feeling – sorrow, joy, majesty – there is another level at which it touches profound truth, just the pure RIGHTNESS of it. Goethe put it well: “It is as though eternal harmony were conversing with itself.”
Concert and recording artist Christa Rakich directs the music program at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in West Hartford, Conn. She has also served on the faculties of Westminster Choir College, Brandeis University, and the University of Connecticut, and as Assistant University Organist at Harvard. Her Artist-in-Residencies have included the University of Pennsylvania and First Lutheran Church in Boston.
As a Fulbright Scholar, Rakich studied for two years with Anton Heiller at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, Austria. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Organ and German from Oberlin College (Phi Beta Kappa). After receipt of her master’s degree with honors from New England Conservatory, she taught there for many years. A prizewinner at international organ competitions (notably Bruges 1976), Rakich has received particular acclaim for her interpretations of the music of J.S. Bach. With keyboardist Peter Sykes, she performed a complete cycle of Bach’s keyboard works in a series of 34 concerts from 2003 to 2005 aptly named Tuesdays With Sebastian. With keyboardist Susan Ferré, Rakich is a founding performer of the Big Moose Bach Festival in Berlin, New Hampshire. Recordings include Bach’s Clavierübung III, Leipzig Chorales and Trio Sonatas.
Miranda Harris Bergmeier, originally from Brooklyn, Conn., has been singing and performing for as long as she can remember. She majored in music at Bryn Mawr College and earned a law degree at Vermont Law School. Last year, Miranda and her family moved to Berlin, N.H., after living for the past ten years in Vermont. In Vermont, Miranda sang with the Randolph Singers, Sounding Joy, the Otter Creek Choral Society, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Also in Vermont, from 2006 to 2010, Miranda was a member of Counterpoint, a professional 12-voice ensemble under the direction of Robert DeCormier. Most recently, Miranda performed in the 2011 Big Moose Bach Festival in Berlin and Gorham, N.H. Miranda lives in Berlin, N.H., with her husband, their daughter, two cats and a happy crazy Labrador retriever.