Bach Event Celebrates Anniversary of Reformation

PosterNov. 6, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— As part of its Religion, Music and the Humanities series, Illinois Wesleyan University’s Evelyn Chapel will host an event celebrating the music of German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. The event, “Bach Against Modernity: Revelation, Revolution, and Religion,” will take place at Evelyn Chapel ( 1301 N. Park St., Bloomington) and is free and open to the public.  

Coordinated by Associate Professor of Music Adriana Ponce and University Chaplain Elyse Nelson Winger, the series  aims to enliven the connections between music, religion, and the humanities in today's multifaith and multicultural context. By offering programs that highlight artists, theologians and scholars from across the ages and across the globe, Ponce and Winger said they hope to educate students and the community.

Celebrating the University’s annual intellectual theme “The Evolution of Revolution,” and the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Sunday’s event will engage the ways in which Bach  responded musically to his own time in the late 17th- to early 18th-century, and to the 16th-century theology of the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther.

“Weaving together a scholarly talk, a live performance of music, and a theological reflection,” Ponce and Winger said the event revolves around a lecture by renowned Bach scholar and the Daniel Underhill Professor Emeritus of Music at Swarthmore College Michael Marissen.

In his lecture, “Bach against Modernity,” Marissen will argue against the widely accepted view of Bach as a “modern” figure, explaining that Bach’s music reflected and promoted what could be described as a pre-modern world and life-view by 18th century standards.

Following Marissen’s lecture, Illinois Wesleyan faculty and guest artists will perform Bach’s Cantata BWV 12, “Weeping, wailing, grieving, trembling.”

Ponce and Winger said the live performance will allow the audience to immerse themselves in some of the music that Marissen discussed in his lecture.

“The experience of the music is enriched by the preceding talk and allows audiences to better experience the meaning and power of a Baroque-era work.”

Sunday’s event is sponsored by the Merwin Multifaith Fund.

By Vi Kakares ‘20