ACE Cultural Tour: Bach Festival in leipzig, Gert Mothes
Bach Festival in Leipzig | 11-18 June 2018
• Sir András Schiff performs Bach’s Goldberg Variations alongside Beethoven’s response – his Diabelli Variations
• La Chapelle Rhénane bring us the magnificent St Matthew Passion
• The Thomaskirche resounds with the festival’s spectacular closing performance: Bach’s Mass in B minor
Leipzig lies at the heart of the classical music tradition: Wagner was born here, Mendelssohn died here and Bach spent nearly three decades as Kapellmeister at the Thomaskirche. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Leipzig plays host to a magnificent annual festival centred on Bach and the composers he inspired.
John Bryden’s tour to the 2018 Bach Festival will incorporate a rich variety of performances from some of the world’s most experienced ensembles and artists. The dominant theme of this year’s festival – ‘cycles’ – has inspired the festival’s selection of several musical sequences including those based around the Well-tempered Clavier, three dramatic ‘Passions’, and Bach’s immortal Brandenburg Concertos. Highlights from each of these feature on our tour, which opens with a stunning concert from pianist Nelson Goerner and builds towards the festival’s magnificent closing performance – Bach’s Mass in B minor – presented by Leipzig’s Thomanerchor and Berlin’s Akademie für Alte Musik. Sir András Schiff mark’s our tour’s midpoint with an ingenious concert pairing Bach’s unforgettable Goldberg Variations with Beethoven’s response, the Diabelli Variations. Choral excellence abounds, meanwhile, in the St Matthew Passion, performed by internationally renowned French ensemble La Chapelle Rhénane under Benoît Haller.
Complementing the musical programme, we will make cultural excursions to Eisenach and Mühlhausen, where Bach once worked as the city’s organist, as well as to Arnstadt, where our Tour Director will give a private organ recital.
We stay in the centre of Leipzig at the Seaside Park Hotel, a four-star Art Deco residence situated within easy walking distance of the festival venues.
Please note that the festival programme is subject to change.
This tour will be led by John Bryden, MA, ARCM, ARCO. A former member of the National Youth Orchestra of Britain, John is also a member of the Dartington Piano Duo and has played across Britain and Europe as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. John writes that he is “jumping for joy” at the prospect of so many remarkable 2018 concerts – including “all the Brandenburgs (two of which I’ve known since childhood), the Goldberg Variations in the hands of Sir András Schiff, Book 1 of the Well-tempered Clavier with Robert Levin, the St Matthew Passion and the B minor Mass – a mighty masterpiece once described by an ACE customer as ‘life-changing’ after hearing it in Bach’s own church.”
John Bryden, MA, ARCM, ARCO
international concert pianist and organist and classical music lecturer
Depart Heathrow 08:45 on British Airways, arriving Berlin 11:45. Transfer to Seaside Park Hotel, Leipzig for seven nights. Evening festival performance at Leipzig Gewandhaus with Nelson Goerner (piano): J S Bach Preludes & Fugues, BWV 870-881, from The Well-tempered Clavier Part II; Chopin Preludes, Op 28.
Morning lecture followed by walking tour of Leipzig (Altes Rathaus, Baroque Barthels Hof), lunch at historic Coffee Baum (frequented by Schumann, Wagner, Goethe). Afternoon visit to the Bach Archiv (the world’s pre-eminent centre of Bach scholarship). Evening festival performance at the Thomaskirche with Wolfgang Zerer (organ): chorale preludes and duets from Klavierübung, Part III.
Whole day excursion to Eisenach (Bach’s birthplace, Bach House) and Mühlhausen (walking tour). Evening festival performance at Leipzig Gewandhaus with Sir András Schiff (piano): J S Bach Goldberg Variations, BWV 988; Beethoven Diabelli Variations, Op 120.
Morning lecture followed by guided tour of the Museum of Historical Musical Instruments including a short recital by the Tour Director. Guided tour of the Mendelssohn House Museum. Evening festival performance at the Thomaskirche with ThomanerNachwuchsChor, La Chapelle Rhénane and Benoît Haller (director): J S Bach St Matthew Passion.
Whole day excursion to Dresden including visits to the New and Historical Green Vaults and Frauenkirche. Evening festival performance at the Kongresshalle with Robert Levin (harpsichord, fortepiano): J S Bach Preludes & Fugues, BWV 858-869, from the Well-tempered Clavier Part I; Mendelssohn Sieben Charakterstücke, Op 7.
Whole day excursion to Arnstadt (Bach Church, including private organ recital by the Tour Director) and Weimar (walking tour and Liszt Museum). Evening festival performance at the Nikolaikirche: J S Bach Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1–3, BWV 1046-1048; J S Bach ‘Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’, BWV 51; J S Bach Concerto in A minor, BWV 1044.
Optional morning service in the Thomaskirche followed by afternoon festival performance at Nikolaikirche with Collegium 1704 and Václav Luks (director): J S Bach Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 4–6, BWV 1049-1051; J S Bach ‘Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut’, BWV 199 . Evening festival closing performance at Thomaskirche with Thomanerchor Leipzig, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Thomaskantor Gotthold Schwarz (director): J S Bach Mass in B minor, BWV 232.
Köthen Castle (where Bach served as Kapellmeister for Prince Leopold). Continue to Berlin for 16:45 departure, arriving Heathrow 17:45.
return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, performances as described, breakfast, four lunches (one packed), four dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.