The downbeat to one of the world's most significant Bach festivals, set in the city where Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked, heralds three weeks of festivities revolving around the famous composer.
In the millennium year of the founding of the city of Leipzig, the festival opened on Friday, June 12, in St. Nicholas's Church - one of the places the famous composer worked during his 27 years in the city. The church itself is celebrating the 850th anniversary of its construction this year.
"So glorious you stand, dear city" is the thus the festival motto in the current edition, taken from Bach's cantata Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn (Praise the Lord, Jerusalem).
The opening is followed by some 100 events in over 30 venues in and around Leipzig. The musical selections focus on works either written in the city or associated with its musical life.
The most famous local headliners are the St. Thomas' Boy Choir and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Other performers include the Collegium Vocale Gent and its director Philipp Herreweghe, Japanese conductor and Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki, as well as Stuttgart's Gächinger Kantorei chorus and its conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann. The ensemble-in-residence is the Ensemble 1704 from Prague.
Along with conventional symphonic and chamber performances and recitals, the festival's "BACHmosphere" series presents open-air performances that delve into jazz and crossover - invariably with a Bach connection.
The highlight of the festival's "b@ch for us" children's programming series is an appearance by the Chinese-German Choir Academy, with singers from Leipzig and Beijing. The sponsors of the project include the Mercator Foundation, the German Foreign Office and the Leipzig Confucius Institute.
rf / Bachfest Leipzig