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October  22, 2010

Reformation Day performance of Bach’s Ein’ feste Burg

Top Augustana vocalists and instrumentalists will perform a Bach Vespers service on Sunday, October 31, the day commemorating the Lutheran Reformation, at 7:30 p.m. in Ascension Chapel in Founders Hall (820 38th Street). The free and public service will feature J.S. Bach's chorale cantata Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is Our God), a chorale melody attributed to Martin Luther.

"This is considered to be one of Bach's 11 great cantatas," Peterson said. "What makes Ein' feste Burg particularly stirring is that it is kind of the national anthem of the Lutheran church and is universally sung on Reformation Day, October 31."

            The cantata will be performed by an elite group of 26 students, faculty and alumni who are involved or were previously involved in the Augustana choirs and orchestra. Dr. Larry Peterson, instructor of organ and campus ministries director of music, will play the organ. The audience will be invited to contribute by participating in congregational singing.

            Ein' feste Burg was first performed between 1727 and 1731 in Leipzig for a festival celebrating the Reformation. The chorale melody, thought to be written by Martin Luther, became associated with the Lutheran church during the 19th century and was used by Felix Mendelssohn in the finale of his symphony Reformation.  The text of Bach's cantata alternates between Luther's chorale and solo meditations on Luther's text.

            Peterson particularly looks forward to the congregational participation in the Bach cantata. "Hearing people sing in worship is such a great joy for me," he said.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833