CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In 1731, the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his Sacred Cantata No. 4, also known as “Sleepers, Wake,” to be performed on the 27th Sunday after Trinity. It’s a remarkably beautiful piece from the Baroque era, but the timing of its performance was a bit unfortunate.
“The 27th Sunday after Trinity rarely happens,” Dr. Douglas Rose, chair of the Austin Peay State University Department of Music, said. “It only happens if Easter is really early. It only happened in Bach’s lifetime in 1731 and 1742.”
Luckily for modern audiences, “Sleepers, Wake” is no longer confined to such rare appearances. But the piece’s performance history, coming so late in the year, has led it to be popularly associated with the holiday season. At 3 p.m. on Dec. 2, the newly formed Gateway Chamber Chorus will present the work as part of the Gateway Chamber Orchestra’s “Winter Baroque” concert at Madison Street United Methodist Church.
“This is really the unveiling of the chorus to the community,” Dr. Gregory Wolynec, conductor of the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, said.
Last spring, Rose set out to recruit talented vocalists from the Clarksville community. The chorus now boasts such gifted singers as APSU music professor emeritus Dr. George Mabry, APSU director of opera workshop Lisa Conklin-Bishop, soprano Hollie Dueker, tenor Dr. Thomas King, several APSU alumni and more than 25 local performers.
“All of them are from the Clarksville area, and they’re really quite good,” Rose, chorus director, said.
For the last four years, Wolynec has worked to make his ensemble the premiere orchestra for the Clarksville community, and he believed a choral component should go along with that. The Winter Baroque concert is now the perfect venue to debut that chorus, with pieces such as Handel’s “Messiah” on the program.
Moving the concert from APSU to the Madison Street United Methodist Church also allows the music to be performed in its proper venue – a church.
“Baroque music in a church resonates well this time of year,” Wolynec said. “Doug is going to be conducting one of the Bach Cantatas. We’re going to feature a couple of very well known works that many concertgoers will recognize. We’re also doing a couple selections from ‘The Messiah,’ George Frideric Handel’s masterwork, featuring Thomas King as tenor.”
The program will also include Jared Wilson performing an organ concerto by Handel, Dr. Jeannette Zyko, APSU assistant professor of music, playing a sinfonia for oboe, and two a cappella pieces – Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen and O sapentia – performed by the choir.
“This concert will celebrate some of the great classical compositions of the Baroque time period,” Wolynec said. “Some of these works were written for performances for this time of year. And the program will end with an audience sing-along on some very popular holiday carols.”
The Winter Baroque concert is part of the orchestra’s 2012-13 season. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for students and active duty military, and $25 for a family of four. Tickets are available on the orchestra’s website, gatewaychamberorchestra.com, and at the church beginning at 1 p.m. on the day of the concert.