Founded in 1983, Salzburg Bach Choir developed into an internationally sought after vocal ensemble under its first conductor Howard Arman. It soon distinguished itself by a high measure of flexibility through cast as well as choral joint tone. The concert repertoire includes several epochs of musical history, reaching from vocal music of the Renaissance to works of the 21st century. Alois Glassner leads the choir since 2003.
Since more than 20 years the choir is a fix point in Salzburg’s musical life: The ensemble stages regularly at the Mozart Week of the International Mozarteum Foundation, the Salzburg Festival, and at concerts of the Salzburg Bach Society. The ensemble also impressed internationally at guest concerts in Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Spain.
Next to the great oratorios and passions by Johann Sebastian Bach (St John and St Matthew Passion, Christmas Oratorio, Mass in B minor, Magnificat) and George Frideric Handel (Messiah, Alexander's Feast, Israel in Egypt), Salzburg Bach Choir’s repertoire includes choir-orchestra works of the Classical period (Joseph Haydn: Creation, Seasons, masses; Johann Michael Haydn: Requiem Mass; W.A. Mozart: Requiem, Mass in C minor; Franz Schubert: Mass in Eb, Rosamunde), pieces of the Romantic period (Johannes Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem; Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Hymn of Praise, motets), works of the 21st century, and pieces by contemporary composers (Arthur Honegger: King David; Arvo Pärt: St John Passion; Georg Friedrich Haas: Sieben Klangraeume to Mozart’s unfinished Requiem Mass, premiere in December 2005) .
The choir received special attention at the Salzburg Jazz Herbst when playing a concert together with Dave Brubeck, the doyen of Jazz.
At Salzburg Biennale, a newly founded festival of contemporary music, Salzburg Bach Choir was hired for a premiere to sing “Cripa” by Mauricio Sotelo at the opening, conducted by Beat Furrer.
In the last few years Salzburg Bach Choir regularly staged at the Salzburg Festival. The choir played with various orchestras and conductors such as the Vienna Philharmonics under Sir Charles Mackerras and Leopold Hager, the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg under Ivor Bolton, Marc Minkowski and Yannick Nézét-Séguin, and Camerata Salzburg under Sir Roger Norrington.
In 2009 the choir presented Joseph Haydn’s Creation in English, with the original cast of eighty singers accompanied by Les Musiciens de Louvre, Grenoble, and Marc Minkowski conducting. The concert was staged again at the Georges Enescu Festival in Bucharest in September.
Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg as Continuous Partner
A main part of Salzburg Bach Choir’s work is the intense team work with the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg and their conductor-in-chief, Ivor Bolton. Highlights were concerts and CD productions of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera Alceste, Joseph Haydn’s Seasons and Creation, Mozart’s version of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at Salzburg Festival Whitsun and Hector Belioz’ oratorio L’Enfance du Christ.
In 2006, the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, the Salzburg Bach Choir participated in the performance of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo, part of the M22 project, that showed all of the artist’s operas in the newly built House for Mozart. The celebrated production was led by Ursula and Karl-Ernst Herrmann, with music by Camerata Salzburg and conducted by Sir Roger Norrington.
The production is available on DVD.
In 2009 Salzburg Bach Choir was hired for the scenic performance of George Frideric Handel’s dramatic oratorio Theodora in the Grosses Festspielhaus. The production was led by Christoph Loy with music played by Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Ivor Bolton.
The critiques by the national and international media about the choir reached from ‘delicate’ (Der Standard) over ‘fabulous’ (Salzburger Nachrichten), ‘clear and distinct’ (Frankfurter Allgemeine), ‘captivating’ (Die Presse), and ‘highly concentrated and sensitive’ (classic.com) to ‘sensationally beautiful’ (Kleine Zeitung) and ‘ballet for the ears’ (Wiener Zeitung).
Projects 2009 and 2010
In 2009 Salzburg Bach Choir celebrated their 25th anniversary with a festive concert in the Carabinieri Hall of Salzburg Residency on 7th February 2009.
Next to patron Johann Sebastian Bach’s motet ‘Singet dem Herrn’ and Johannes Brahms’ Fest und Gedenksprueche, the choir, accompanied by Camerata Salzburg, presented various pieces by George Frideric Handel, Thomas Tallis’ famous 40-part motet ‘Spem in Alium’ and finally a piece by Shane Woodborne, composed exclusively for the event, based on lyrics by Mozart and aspiring to open new insights into the genius’ thoughts.
As a special event within the Salzburg Festival 2009, Salzburg Bach Choir once more presented Tallis’ famous motet at St Peter’s church in Salzburg, which provided an exceptional musical experience for the audience present.
Salzburg Bach Choir could often prove their competency in the interpretation of contemporary compositions, which might well have been the reason why they partook in the premiere of Georg Lukeschitsch’ Requiem Mass in Villach in November.
In December the choir again presented Georg Friedrich Haas’ Sieben Klangraeume, a composition already staged in 2005 within Dialogues, a festival of the International Mozarteum Foundation, this time conducted by Lothar Zagrosek.
Also in December Salzburg Bach Choir for the first time staged at Concertgebouw Amsterdam presenting Mozart’s Requiem Mass in collaboration with Mozarteum Orchestra and Mark Wigglesworth.
Under the lead of Alois Glassner Bach Choir and Camerata Salzburg presented a programme of Italian Baroque Music in Malaga, Spain.
In the first half of 2010 two big concerts planned together with the Mozarteum Orchestra took place in the Grosses Festspielhaus:
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Hymn of Praise, Symphony No 2 with Claus Peter Flor and Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé with Hans Graf conducting in Salzburg. In summer 2010 Salzburg Bach Choir will again take part in the Salzburg Festival with Darius Milhaud’s Les Choéphores (Ingo Metzmacher conductor) and Mozart’s Mass in C minor under Jérémie Rhorer.