The Bach Cantata Series


The Bach Cantata Series at Saint Luke Church proceeds from the desire of the parish to share with Chicago music lovers its hospitable liturgical and musical setting as a natural home for these great choral works. While St. Thomas church in Leipzig seats more people than Saint Luke church on Belmont, the two buildings are quite similar in shape (narrow, long, and high) and have similar acoustics. In this setting the cantatas' potency is felt more strongly as they come alive within the composer's own anticipations and plans.

Unique to these performances is attention to those details which enable fuller appreciation of Bach's intent with these works: commissioned translations which assist the hearing of word-tone relationships; written commentary as a way to provide notice of the musical devices Bach employs; and attention to those hymns and texts which prompted the composition of these cantatas.

Professional soloists and instrumentalists join the Saint Luke Bach Choir under the direction of Dr. Mark Bangert for presentations of selected cantatas in the context of sung Vespers or Sunday morning eucharists.

With the support of underwriters as well as patrons, friends and sponsors, Saint Luke Church is able to offer this concert series to the Chicago area without admission charges.

There is free parking in the lot and in the parking structure immediately west of the church. The church is wheelchair accessible.


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2013-2014 Schedule


Sunday, October 20, 2013

4:00 p.m.

Do it Yourself Bach



Have you ever wanted to sing some of Bachs greatest "hits" with the professionals? Here's your chance! Join the Saint Luke Bach Choir for a late afternoon sing along of about a dozen excerpts from the cantatas, passions and even the b-minor Mass - all accompanied by professional orchestra, sung in English. Listeners welcome, but this is for you, dear singer, be you soprano, alto, tenor, or bass!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

BWV 10  Meine Seel erhebt den Herren

10:30 a.m. at Saint Luke, Chicago

One Bach for the City and the 'Burbs

in conjnction with the Bach Cantata Vespers Ministry

of Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Il


Sister congregation, Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, has been offering Bach cantatas for more than 35 years. Some of the soloists and instrumentalists who are "regulars" in the St. Luke series also participate in the presentations at Grace. So to the conductors, Michael Costello and Mark Bangert, it seemed only brilliant to combine the groups for a cantata to be presented at both places. Cantata 10, "My Soul magnifies the Lord," is Bach's exquisite setting of the German version of the Magnificat, featuring, after a rousing opening chorus, a virtuosic aria for bass and a trio which Bach liked so much that he turned it into an arrangement for organ. This piece is so good you will want to hear a second time at Grace at 4 p.m..


Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.


Two Favorite Solo Cantatas

BWV 56  Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen

BWV 169  Gott soll allein mein Herze haben



Kreuzstab is a beloved household name among bass-baritones, for its successful presentation is a kind of passage rite that indicates maturity as a singer. Cantata 56, "I will gladly bear the cross-beam," is not a musically virtuosic piece; rather, the measure of maturity in this work relates to the insight Bach through music brings to a complicated text about hope in adversity, and to how well singers and players bring that to life. Fitting just as well into the season of Lent is Cantata 169, "God alone shall have my heart." This sturdy affirmation of faith for alto explores the many facets of a seasoned believer's life and does so with abandon. Thought to have originated as a keyboard concerto, this cantata offers equal time to vocal and keyboard soloists, suggesting that the life of faith extends well into all areas of existence.



June 8, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.


And Peace at the Last

BWV 34  O ewiges Feuer, O Ursprung der Liebe


Of the many themes that swirl about the Feast of Pentecost which one shall the preacher choose? Bach's librettists, and so Bach too, faced the same problem; however, for Pentecost 1746 (1747?) they chose to focus on peace as a byproduct of the love enflamed in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. How convenient, since apparently there was a wedding cantata from years earlier that could be easily reshaped to serve their current goals. Trumpets and drums set the pace and are never far from activity at hand. Near the end of this captivating work a stirring two-measure exclamation from the entire ensemble drives home the words "Peace upon Israel," providing a kind of hopeful answer to Saint Luke's unceasing prayer for peace that closes every Sunday service.

Saint Luke Church, 1500 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL 60657, 773-472-3383, an affiliate of Saint Luke Ministries

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