Since Bach Vespers is in the format of an evening prayer service, neither tickets nor reservations are required. Bach Vespers is free and open to the public.
For at least the last eighteen centuries, some formula for prayer at the end of the day has been part of the Christian tradition. While no one knows precisely what the earliest form of Vespers looked like or sounded like, certain themes have managed to endure, including confession, gratitude, and light. While Vespers never quite became a significant part of Lutheran piety, that it is still kept at all in the Lutheran tradition may be thanks to one church: the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.
In 1968, as Holy Trinity Lutheran Church marked its 100th anniversary, the church set out to celebrate its history and the rich tradition of music in the Lutheran Church. Drawing from the high level of music performance in the City of New York, a series named “Evenings with Johann S” was established in homage to the twenty-seven years Johann Sebastian Bach served as the Kantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where most of his cantatas were composed.
Though Bach’s cantatas were generally performed at the primary Sunday morning liturgy in Leipzig, our practice at Bach Vespers imagines what can happen when we juxtapose the ancient tradition of Vespers with the cantatas of the principal musician of the city that helped it endure. As a result, Bach Vespers is the first music series in the Western Hemisphere to present the cantatas of the great Lutheran composer Johann Sebastian Bach within a liturgical context. Since it is a service of worship, Bach Vespers is free and open to the public, with neither tickets nor reservations required.
The 75+ musicians (playing period instruments) who regularly contribute Bach Vespers are some of the finest early musicians in the nation. Over fifty years, eight hundred worship services, thousands of candles, and two Grammy nominations later, having performed 158 out of the 200 extant cantatas, Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity continues this series on many Sunday evenings from October to May.
Whether you identify as faith-filled or not so sure, Lutheran or Luther-who? you are welcome to participate in the singing, prayer, and ritual of Bach Vespers only to the extent you feel comfortable doing so. Welcome. There will always be a place for you here.
Anthony Blake Clark, the artistic director of Bach Vespers, is a dynamic choral conductor known for his energetic style and eclectic programming. He serves as Music Director of Baltimore Choral Arts — one of Maryland’s premier cultural institutions — and as Director of Choral Activities at the George Washington University’s Corcoran School of Art and Design. The versatile director and composer is equally at home conducting Baroque, Renaissance, Classical and modern works.
Mr. Clark conducts orchestras and choirs and works with professional and amateur ensembles in the USA and Europe. During his tenure with Baltimore Choral Arts, he has consistently received top reviews both for work at the podium in his subscription concerts and his preparation of choruses for performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and the Peabody Preparatory Orchestra.
Mr. Clark is passionate about teaching and conducts the University Singers and Women’s Ensemble at George Washington University. With his university choirs, he has led performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington National Cathedral, and the Music Center at Strathmore. An active composer and arranger, Mr. Clark has had his scores performed in the Washington D.C. area, London, Oxford, Texas and at Prague’s Dvorak National Museum Concert Hall.