A Style section review yesterday listed the Washington Bach Consort as participating in an American Guild of Organists program. The consort did not appear, but its music director, J. Reilly Lewis, conducted a choir at the performance.
Whereas people today go to the office and write memos, Bach went to church and wrote music. In reveling in the glories of what he created, we sometimes forget that writing music was a job that had weekly deadlines and inadequate pay, but a job that he did, nevertheless, surpassingly well.
Yesterday at the United Church, downtown, three local chapters of The American Guild of Organists presented a re-creation of an Epiphany vesper service as it might have been held at Bach's church, St. Tomas in Leipzig, during his tenure there. Assisting were organists, Jane Bourdow, Eileen Morris Guenther, Peter Marshall, Sondra Proctor, F. Thomas Richardson, Donald Sutherland and Maureen Jais-Mick, J. Reilly Lewis' Washington Bach Consort, and a small group of strings. Among them they performed choral preludes, interludes, concertos and preludes and fugues, the motet "Singet dem Herrn," and assorted lesser motets, hymns and canticles. The musical and intellectual riches were almost too much to take in at one time, and one assumes that the Thomaskirche congregation was fed a slightly leaner diet as a rule.
The performances were workmanlike, if not particularly memorable, which was also undoubtedly true to the spirit of the occasion, and the service attracted about half again as many people as the sanctuary could comfortably hold.