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St Johns Southgate

14 Jan 2012

Theologian Karl Barth once mused whether the angels in heaven when praising God played Bach. He wasn’t sure.

Southbank residents and visitors, though, can be certain of hearing the great composer’s choral music regularly and right at the centre of our community.

St Johns Church Southgate presents the cantatas of JS Bach, wonderful short works on religious themes for vocal soloists, choir and orchestra, in a program of  about eight performances throughout the year.

These musical gems, of which about 200 survive, were intended by Bach to be part of Lutheran church services and that is the way they are presented at St Johns.
The first cantata for this year, to be presented  at 9am on Sunday February 5, is Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde (BWV 83), a work for three soloists, choir, strings, two oboes, two horns and continuo.  It will feature Sally Ann Russell (mezzo soprano), Robert Macfarlane (tenor) Jerzy Koslowski (bass) and the St Johns Bach Choir and Orchestra, all under the direction of Dr Graham Lieschke.

Dr Lieschke, the St Johns Director of Music, is the driving force behind the program, which, in its 15th year, is one of the longest-running Bach programs in the world and the only one of its kind in Australia.

St Johns Bach Choir and Orchestra is a period instrument orchestra and is often joined by some of Australia’s finest period instrument specialists and soloists.

Cantata services at St Johns also feature Bach’s organ music played by Dr Lieschke on an Australian-built Smenge pipe organ, the German baroque style of which is tailor-made for this music.

Some works in the 2012  program will be presented in collaboration with other groups, including the choir of Trinity College (University of Melbourne), directed by Michael Leighton Jones and the Early Music Studio Baroque Ensemble  and Early Voices (University of Melbourne), directed by Greg Dikmans.

If you are a lover of Bach, interested in fine music or believe you might like to attend a church service enriched by these glorious choral works you can find details of the 2012 program on the St John’s website at

www.stjohnssouthgate.com.au or you can phone the St Johns office on 9682 4995   

Cantatas at St Johns are part of the church service and there is no admission fee, although donations to support the program are most welcome.

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