Why Should I Attend the St. Matthew Passion on March 26th?

Anonymous Peruvian painting of the Christ child with symbols of the passion on his garment

James Richman, like the anonymous artist of this painting, always finds something surprising and nuanced in the music he interprets.

What was Theater Jones saying about Richman and the DBS last Spring?

“—for instance the arrestingly mysterious opening ensemble of the Heart cantata, the amazing falling harmonic progression in the opening chorus of the cantata devoted to the Knees, and joyous, flowing melismas of the final chorus, after a largely reflective work. But it is impossible, in 2017, to hear this work without observing this origin of gestures that would turn up in the music of Bach and Handel (both of whom knew Buxtehude personally), and are echoed even in the choral-orchestral works of Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Mahler. Among the impeccable vocal soloists, soprano Anna Fredericka Popova provided a particularly fine and stunning performance; as always in a concert of the Dallas Bach Society, the audience not only heard great music but experienced the re-creation of a different era as expressed in music. “

Do not miss March 26th at the Meyerson for J.S. Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion! Bach’s greatest sacred work, with double chorus and orchestra is featured in a gala performance in the magnificent acoustic of the Meyerson Symphony Center, featuring Dann Coakwell as the Evangelist, David Grogan as Christus, with the Children’s Chorus of Dallas and Anna Fredericka-Popova…/2018/saint-matthew-passion/


Passiontide concert

Saturday Evening, April 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm – Zion Lutheran Church

The Dallas Bach Society

James Richman, Artistic Director

German Baroque Passiontide Music

Cantata 4: Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4, 1707) by Johann Sebastian Bach

Verse I: Christ lag in Todes Banden
Verse II: Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt
Ms. Beasley, Ms. Kledas
Verse III: Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn
Verse IV: Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg
Verse V: Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm
Mr. Grogan
Verse VI: So feiern wir das hohe Fest
Verse VII: Wir essen und leben wohl

Die Sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz by  Heinrich Schütz

Evangelist – Nicholas Garza
Jesus – Patrick Gnage
Criminals by Jesus’s side – Peter Tiggelaar, W. Charles Moore

Membra Jesu Nostri by Dietrich Buxtehude

Ad pedes: Ecce super montes
Ad genua: Ad uber portabimini
Ad manus: Quid sunt plagae istae
Ad latus: Surge amica mea
Ad pectus: Sicut modo geniti infantes
Ad cor: Vulnerasti cor meum
Ad faciem: Illustra faciem tuam

Anna Fredericka Popova, Leslie Hochman, Soprano
Nicholas Garza, Alto
Tucker Bilodeau, Tenor
David Grogan, Bass


bout the Program:   

In the eighteenth century, music in Germany adopted the best from Italy and France, and crafted from these the cosmopolitan style which reached its apex with Mozart. This was quite intentional, and a conscious choice by the leading composers, leaving behind the native German School, which was considered somehow primitive and parochial for all its forthright and powerful skill and clarity. It is this abandoned tradition that we celebrate in this concert.

Heinrich Schütz, the first of our composers this evening, was born in the sixteenth century, and in fact was heavily influenced by his Venetian teacher, the renowned Giovanni Gabrieli, with whom he spent three years from 1609-1612. His musical studies were launched early on when the Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel heard him sing at age twelve while staying at his father’s inn at Weissenfels. The Landgrave convinced his parents to allow him to become a choirboy at the castle in Kassel, after which he studied law, before going to Italy. He returned to become organist at Kassel from 1613 to 1615, at which point he left to become Court Composer to the Elector of Saxony in Dresden for the rest of his life. Of course the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War shortly thereafter had a profound and negative effect on all German musical life until 1648, and perhaps as a result Schuetz took advantage of an invitation to Italy to study with Claudio Monteverdi in 1628, and then in 1633 he went to Copenhagen for two years to compose music for the wedding festivities there, and then returned for another extended visit in 1641.

Luckily, Schütz lived to a very old age, and was able finally, with the end of the wars, to realize a great many compositions. An alarming amount of his earlier music is lost, including the first German opera, Dafne, from 1627, but nonetheless there are over 500 compositions that survive. His later works are almost austere in comparison with the flamboyance that marked his Italianate youth, and the Seven Last Words are typical of this style. The little Sinfonia contained in the work is the only piece of purely instrumental music (outside of the voluminous organ works) that we have.

Dietrich Buxtehude, born in 1637 in Denmark at Helsingborg (which is now part of Sweden), was a very important North German composer, especially for organ music, although in his case as well a great deal of music is lost, including a significant number of larger works. His career centered around the Marienkirche in Lübeck, where he moved in 1668 to succeed Franz Tunder. He followed in the footsteps of Tunder, including most importantly the Abendmusik concert series which resumed in 1673. He also married Tunder’s daughter, and apparently when both Handel and J.S. Bach paid homage to him late in life he offered them each his post, with the provision that they marry his daughter!

The Membra Jesu nostri patientis sanctissima (The Most Holy Limbs of our Suffering Jesus) is a cycle of seven cantatas, on the medieval hymn Salve mundi salutare which is divided into seven parts, each addressed to a different part of the crucified Christ’s body – the feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart and head. The work is scored for five voices, SSATB, and instruments. Buxtehude selected Biblical verses for each cantata, and used three strophes from each section of the poem for the arias in each cantata. The Biblical words refer to the member in each cantata, and are mostly taken from the Old Testament.

One of J.S. Bach’s earliest cantatas, indeed the earliest for which we have a firm performance date, is Christ lag in Todes Banden, written for Arnstadt. It is very much in the old German style, using all the verses in the hymn of Martin Luther on which it is based. The eight movements are all in the same key of E Minor.

It is very interesting indeed that Sebastian Bach seems to have taken Martin Luther’s words to heart in the creation of his chorale preludes, including this one, perhaps the most engaging and beloved of his compositions where the simple chorale tune is elaborated in complex and amazing ways. Luther declared, in his Table Talk: “How strange and wonderful it is that one voice sings a simple unpretentious tune… while three, four, or five other voices are also sung; these voices play and sway in joyful exuberance around the tune and with ever-varying art and tuneful sound wondrously adorn and beautify it, and in a celestial roundelay meet in friendly caress and lovely embrace; so that anyone, having a little understanding, must be moved and greatly wonder, and come to the conclusion that there is nothing rarer in the whole world than a song adorned by so many voices.” Two hundred years later Bach realized this precise formula for brilliant compositions!

About the Dallas Bach Society and James Richman:

Since its founding in 1982 the Dallas Bach Society has been the primary resource in the Southwest for Baroque and Classic music on original instruments. Under the musical direction of James Richman, the Society unites the finest vocalists and instrumentalists from the Metroplex, all over the United States, and from abroad, in lively and informed performances of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Monteverdi, Couperin, Schütz and other period composers. Every season the Dallas Bach Society presents a full program of Baroque and Classic music on original instruments, featuring performances of favorites like Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Passions,  Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as well as little known works of great music which would otherwise be heard only rarely, if at all. Significant recent performances include staged presentations of Monteverdi’s Ballo delle Ingrate and Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and the modern staged premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Zéphyre, both with the New York Baroque Dance Company; the Dublin and Mozart versions of Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Saint John Passion and Saint Matthew Passion, French cantatas with Bernard Deletré and Ann Monoyios from the Paris Opera, CPE Bach’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Fortepiano with fortepianist Christoph Hammer, and recordings for CD of Messiah and Bach solo Cantatas. Our performance of Messiah was chosen for broadcast nationwide by Public Radio International in 2012. The Board of Directors has defined the mission of the Dallas Bach Society as follows: to present in public performances of the highest quality music composed before 1800, especially the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, to encourage the development of this musical repertoire in the Dallas area for both performers and audience, and to promote and encourage public education and awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the musical art of the Baroque and earlier periods in our own time. Funding for the DBS includes grants from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Texas Commission of the Arts, the Dallas Foundation, TACA, and private donations.  The DBS is a member of the Association of Professional Vocal Ensembles, the Neue Bach Gesellschaft, and is a founding member of Early Music America.

James Richman, Artistic Director of the Dallas Bach Society, is a prominent harpsichordist and fortepianist, as well as one of today’s leading conductors of Baroque music and opera. The first musician since Leonard Bernstein to graduate Harvard, Juilliard, and the Curtis Institute of Music, James Richman studied conducting with Max Rudolf and Herbert Blomstedt, piano with Rosina Lhevinne and Mieczyslaw Horszowski, and harpsichord with Albert Fuller and Kenneth Gilbert.  He holds a degree in the History of Science magna cum laude from Harvard College.  A recipient of the prestigious United States-France Exchange Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he was made a chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1995, in recognition of his contributions to the field of music. James Richman has been a prizewinner in four international competitions for early keyboard instruments, including first prize in the Bodky Competition of the Cambridge Society of Early Music, laureate of the Bruges Harpsichord Competition and bronze medal in the Paris Harpsichord Competition of the Festival Estival and in the First International Fortepiano Competition (Paris).  In appearances at the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Spoleto Festival USA, the E. Nakamichi Baroque Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, as well as in regular series in New York, he has organized and conducted revivals of stage works by Handel, Gluck, Purcell, J.C. Bach, Monteverdi, and seven operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau. He has recorded for Nonesuch, Newport Classic, Centaur, Vox and New World records, and his live performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6 is featured on National Public Radio’s Bach CD, along with recordings of James Galway, Yo-Yo Ma and Christopher Hogwood.  He is also Artistic Director of New York’s Concert Royal ensemble, which appears annually with the Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in the performances of Messiah and the great works of Bach and Purcell.


Repertorio Español

Saturday Evening, February 10-11, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Meadows Museum at SMU

The Dallas Bach Society
James Richman, Artistic Director

Repertorio Español
Nell Snaidas, Soprano

Yo soy la Locura from Cinquisieme livre (1614)
Henri du Bailly (158?-1637)
Gabrielle Bataille (1575-1639)
(obbligato parts Grant C. Herreid)

Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656)

Quien quiere entrar
El baxel

Recercada Primera sobre tenore Italianos
Recercada Segunda sobre ‘La Spagna’
Recercada Segunda sobre tenore Italianos
Diego Ortiz (1510-1570)

Zarzuela ‘SALIR EL AMOR DEL MUNDO’ (1696)
Eso No Cobarde
Sosieguen, descansen
Sebastián Durón (1660-1716)


Ojos pues me desdeñáis
No sé yo cómo es
Niña como en tus mudanzas
José Marin(1619-1699)

Los Imposibles
Santiago de Murcia

Passapieds viejo y nueba

Codex Martínez Compañón/ Codex Trujillo del Perú  (1781)
Transcribed and arranged by Tom Zajac (1956-2014)
El Palomo
Lanchas Para Baylar

Oygan una Xácarilla
Rafael Castellanos (1725-1791)

Convidando está la noche
Juan García Zéspedes (1619-1778)

About the Artist: 

Grammy-nominated soprano Nell Snaidas has been praised by the New York Times for her “vocally ravishing” performances and “melting passion”. Her voice has also been described as “remarkably pure with glints of rich sensuality” (Vancouver Sun) as well as “powerfully at home in the works of Monteverdi” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Of Uruguayan-American descent, Nell is recognized for her specialization in historical performance practice, in particular the repertoire of Italy, Latin America and Spain. Nell began her career singing leading roles in zarzuelas at New York City’s Repertorio Español and has sung in venues ranging from the Hollywood Bowl to Tanglewood, from Teatro Massimo (Palermo) to the missions of Bolivia. Favorite projects include singing with Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall, recording the movie-soundtrack of “The Producers” with Mel Brooks in the booth, singing Schubert Lieder with duet partner Daniel Swenberg on 19th century guitar and collaborating with Alicia Keys on the musical arrangement and Italian translation of her song “Superwoman” for Kathleen Battle for the grand finale of the 2008 America Music Awards. Upcoming performances include a return to the Boston Early Music Festival to portay the role of Amore in both L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Il Ritorno di Ulisse both by Claudio Monteverdi.

Renowned as an interpreter of Iberian Early music, Nell has been invited to coach and select repertoire for many leading Early Music Ensembles including The Trinity Wall Street Choir, Piffaro and The Rose Ensemble as well as serve on the faculty of the New York Continuo Collective and at the Madison Early Music Festival, where she will return this summer to make her directorial debut of the baroque zarzuela “La Púrpura de la Rosa”.

Nell has was featured on CBC radio as one of the leading interpreters of Spanish Renaissance/Sephardic song and has recorded for Sony Classical, Sono Luminus, Koch International and Dorian. Recent projects include collaborations as soloist/co-director with: Apollo’s Fire: The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra in “Sephardic Journey” (which debuted at #5 on the Classical Billboard chart), The Bishops’s Band “Codex Trujillo del Perú” with Tom Zajac (Trinity Wall St. 12th Night Festival) Bach Collegium San Diego’s program of music from 18th century Latin America. Nell is the co-artistic director of GEMAS, a concert series in NYC devoted to the early music and musicians of the Americas and sponsored by Americas Society and GEMS. Nell is thrilled to reunite with James Richman and the Dallas Bach Society for this concert of music that is so close to her heart.


Les Arts Florissant Program


Saturday Evening, October 8, 2016, 7:30 p.m. at Caruth Auditorium, SMU

The Dallas Bach Society James Richman, Artistic Director

Clare Cason, Michelle Hanlon, Baroque Violins
Tamara Meredith, Janelle West, Baroque Flutes
Eric Smith, Viola da Gamba
Chrisopher Phillpott, Baroque Cello
James Richman, Harpsichord


Catherine Turocy, Artistic Director – Carly Fox Horton, Glenda Norcross, Alexis Silver, Catherine Turocy, Brynt Beitman, Brock Henderson, Gabriel Speiller, Andrew Trego


Anna Frederica Popova, Camille Ortiz-Lafont, Rebecca Beasley, Sopranos
Katrina Burggraf-Kledas, Mezzo-Soprano
Nicholas Garza, Tenor
Patrick Gnage, Baritone
Joshua Hughes, Andrew Dittman, Bass

The creation of this production of Les Arts Florissants was made possible by generous grants from TACA, the Texas Commision for the Arts, the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and numerous private donors. We are also grateful to Bruce Wood Dance Project and Contemporary Ballet Dallas for their support.

When he composed Les Arts Florissants, Marc Antoine Charpentier was in the service of the Duchesse de Guise, where he enjoyed the presence of a small but exquisite ensemble of musicians, several of whom were also servants. He produced a prodigious amount of music in all genres, which has the delightful characteristic that every “new” piece discovered and performed in our day proves to be of very high quality!

Les Arts Florissants, his Idyle en musique, was written in 1685 as best as can be judged, and thus during the lifetime of Lully, who held the Royal Patent for opera. Simply put, this Patent meant that no one else in the kingdom was allowed to use more than eight singers and eight musicians for dramatic musical works. While Charpentier did live long enough to survive this prohibition and write one full-blown opera, the cleverness with which he overcame the legal limitations in the current work is perhaps even a greater proof of his genius. He constructs a vocal ensemble of seven (in five parts with doubling of the soprano and bass parts) who serve as the solo Arts, as well as the chorus of Arts and Warriors. With the proper preparation, they also flee the stage, only to reappear as the followers of Discord. When Discord is vanquished by Peace (the eighth vocalist), they come back in their original guise to honor the return of Peace and the Flourishing Arts, in a finale of celestial beauty and perfection.

The exact reference to a real Peace has been much debated, as Louis XIV, whose Peace is clearly in question, was involved in a number of foreign conflicts at this time. One possibility that has not been much spoken of, but which may be the most important of all, is the turning of the tide in the ongoing war with the Turks, including the siege of Esztergom and the important victory at Novy Sad, as well as the turning back of the Turkish forces at the Gates of Vienna in 1683. This marked the beginning of the end of these conflicts, and Louis’s involvement in the victory was duly acknowledged by the Sublime Porte when he was ceded the title of protector of the Christian holy places in Palestine. Whatever the actual peace, however, Charpentier’s sublime work celebrates the bounty of peace on a higher level, with real gratitude for the blessings peace brings, especially for the arts.

Charpentier’s Sonata, a rare instrumental work, seems related to Les Arts Florissants by its position in the manuscript volumes containing his compositions. It stands alone as a work of great inventiveness, but is even more interesting in this context. His delightful Song of the birth of Jesus dates from the same period and was written for the same musicians and singers.

On Baroque Dance:

Although the forerunner of ballet, Baroque dance has its own vocabulary of movements and expressivity which is complete in itself. Among its characteristics are a relaxed foot, 90-degree turnout of the legs, ornamental hand gestures, vertical carriage of the body, close interplay between music and movement, and the use of symmetrical, complex floor patterns in choreographies. The elements of this dance technique were common in both ballroom and theater dances.

Throughout the Baroque era, Paris was the center of the dance world, where ballets were produced which ranged in size from solo entrees to large group pieces. Casts were originally drawn from the most talented of the nobility at court, as well as from professionals trained at the Academie Royale, but after 1700 the casts became wholly professional.

The chief sources of notation are the collections of ballets published by Raoul-Auger Feuillet in 1700-1704 and Gaudrau in 1712. The notation system records the step units, floor patterns, and correlation between music and dance measures. Although a notation and description of the hand gestures exists, the dances are rarely notated with their corresponding hand gestures. Consequently, the reconstructor must choreograph these gestures into the dances. Theatrical dances which employ contrasts in dynamics and phrasing, and stylized gestures in the development of a character, call even more directly upon the reconstructor’s talents, both as a choreographer and dramatist.

On Baroque Opera-Ballet:

The production of Les Arts Florissants aims at realizing the original concept of the ultimate artistic synthesis where the combination of many art forms leads to a total sensual and intellectual experience. Baroque opera-ballet was music theater at its most complex, which drew upon the extant traditions of dramatic and musical improvisation, lyric poetry, stage machinery, and the various forms of music and dance composition. The existence of these cultural riches as a natural backdrop in this time of great artistic creativity produced an art of unequaled splendor whose “perfection” was surely what led composers such as Monteverdi, Lully, Rameau, and Handel to devote their lives and greatest energies to this form. It is our belief that Baroque opera, which was so irresistible to its original patrons and public, can be equally compelling for today’s audiences when it is presented on its own terms rather than in the mold of nineteenth-century grand opera. Baroque opera was immediately communicative to its original audiences, who lavished unheard-of rewards and praises on its greatest exponents.

The successful realization of this total art, the gesamtkunstwerk as it might be called today, requires a different kind of understanding than is currently prevalent in opera. When confronted with an immense work of da capo arias sung by mythological or historical characters, with many binary-form dances, modern musicians have often reacted with the same doubts Burney had in the late eighteenth century, assuming that the older form would of necessity be pedantic or boring. Actually the construction of an act of Baroque opera is a special process of composition balancing the two kinds of dramatic time, that of the recitative and the more suspended time of the aria and dance.

Charpentier’s genius lies in his outstanding ability to give a wholly satisfying suite of events, which exploit to the fullest the limited forces available to him. This genius can be best appreciated today by recreating the framework within which this creativity took place. It is this, not any abstract notion, which is the underlying reason to be concerned with “authenticity,” with hearing the whole work, and for restoring the dance and drama along with the music. A total effect grows from the consonance and resonance between the respective parts, the singing with the original instruments, the music with the dance, the dance with the acting and declamation, and finally the procession through theatrical time which allows a most interesting period and style of performance to come to life.


North Texas Giving Day 2016

Many thanks to Board President Michael Mathews for the matching funds, making this our best North Texas Giving Day ever!

The Dallas Bach Society board of directors also wants to thank the generous supporters of early music who donated today. With your help, we can fund the education and outreach endeavors of the 2016-17 season!