The Terre Haute Choral Society

Bach and Brahms Concert

Performance on March 2, 1997 at 3pm

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

South 5th Street

Terre Haute, Indiana

Director, Dan Miller

Accompanist, Dennis Dieken


Bach Motet III Jesu meine Freude

Brahms Alto Rhapsody

with guest artist mezzo-soprano Peggy Balensuela

How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place from Brahms German Requium

The Terre Haute Choral Society


Cheryl Clark	Donna Dart	     Dea Ann Eaton	Joan Fuelle
Regina Harkins	Bev Herrig	     Marsha Miller	Lillian Murphy
Connie Wieck	Priscilla Wieck


Janis Clark	Amanda Dowell	     Jo Eglen	         Diana Joslin
Lisa Miller


Rich Dowell	Don Richards


Peter Bruning	John Daniel	     John Gallagher	Chris Heap
Dave Lloyd	Boice McCain	     Darrell Swarens	Curt Winkle

Jesu meine Freude (BWV 227)

Soon after his arrival in Leipzig in 1723, Bach was apparently commissioned to write a memorial motet for the wife of the town's Postmaster, Johanna Maria Kase. The service took place in the Nikolaikirche on 18th July. An event which can hardly have meant much to him personally nonetheless elicited from Bach one of his most deeply felt and skillfully constructed works. "Jesu meine Freude" is the longest and structurally the tautest of Bach's motets. It is scored for five-part choir, grouped in smaller divisions for certain sections, with an implied basso continuo (performed here by organ).

Among the many impressive features of this motet, two stand out. Firstly, a very unusual vocal texture, transparent for most of the time but occasionally extremely dense, is produced by the rich harmonic basis Bach gives to the intricate counterpoint of the main movements (nos. 2, 6 and 10) and by the superb linear progression he gives to the inner voices in even the simplest of the chorale harmonisations. Then, unlike the chain of loosely connected movements characteristic of the Leipzig cantatas he was writing at the same time (with their pattern of opening chorus, recitative, aria and chorale), Bach's plan of this motet required that the various sections should be closely linked and arranged symmetrically. The chiastic structure of the work can most easily be expressed diagrammatically (see below).

Through the eleven sections of this motet Bach alternates stanzas of Johann Franck's devout but sugary hymn of 1653 with St-Paul's tersely argued contrast between earthly death and heavenly eternity through Christ. At the apex of the work Bach, for whom music and theology were virtually inseparable, sets the central text, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit" as a five-voiced fugue - an established expression of balanced order which proves serenely expressive in his hands. Each vocal line while making perfect independent sense, contains fertile harmonic implications which gives tremendous internal energy to the whole. There could be no more perfect musical parallel for the theological theme namely that out of human experience, the joys and sufferings of the flesh, there may now a lyrical affirmation of the spirit.

The Text

Jesu my joy
Delight of my heart,
Jesu, my inspiration;
O how much longer
Must my heart be in anguish
And long for Thee !
Lamb of God, my chosen one
Nothing on this earth
Can so win our devotion

There is therefore now no condemnation to them 
Which are in Jesus Christ, who walk not after the 
Flesh, but after the Spirit.
                                              (Romans VIII.1)

Under Thy protection
From the raging of the enemy
I am ever free.
Though satan finds me
And evil shall oppress me
Jesus is at my side!
Through life's storms and strife
From sin and hell,
Jesus will protect me.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ
Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and
                                          (Romans VIII. 2)

I spurn the evil one,
The jaws of death 
And all my fears,
Though the world may rage and roar 
I stand here and sing 
In such secure peace! 
God's might protects me: 
Earth and hell are mute, 
Their turmoil silenced.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be 
That the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man 
Have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
                                                  (Romans VIII. 9)

Hence all earthly splendour, 
Thou art my treasure 
Jesu, my delight! 
Hence fleeting pleasures, 
I do not hear your voice, 
Leave me unmolested! 
Distress, need, the cross, insult and death 
I will gladly suffer 
So long as Jesus does not desert me.

If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
But the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
                                               (Romans VIII. 10)

Farewell o earthly existence
What the world has to offer 
No longer tempts me! 
Farewell sin, 
Stay from me, 
Approach me no more! 
Farewell pride and pomp. 
To all wickedness I bid farewell!

But if' the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from 
The dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ 
From the dead shall also quicken your mortal 
Bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
                                         (Romans VIII. 11)

Go from me, o grief, 
For my joy and master, 
Jesus, is here. 
All that love God 
Find their sorrow 
Turned to sweetest joy. 
Scorn and derision are endured, 
In my suffering Thou art 
Jesus, my joy!

Alto Rhapsody (Op. 53)

Brahms composed his Rhapsody, Op. 53, in the autumn of 1869, drawing upon a difficult poem of Goethe's, Harzreise Em Winter ("Winter Journey Through the Harz Mountains"). Of the poem's 88 lines, Brahms chose to set only the central part, just one quarter of the whole. Goethe's poem was written after a visit to the Harz Mountains in 1777; there he met a correspondent of his, a misanthropic young fellow named Plessing, who had withdrawn from the world into the solitude of nature. Goethe's poem describes one who goes "off apart," praying that the Father of Love may have on his Psalter "a single tone perceptible to his ear," which might "revive his heart." It seems odd that Brahms should choose such a darkly personal text to set to music as a wedding gift for Julie Schumann, the daughter of his dear friend Clara, but there can be little doubt that Goethe's poem spoke to him, in his own solitary life, with unusual directness, and he responded to it with shattering, personal music. The orchestral introduction shivers in its chilly C minor depiction of the winter scene, interrupted by the alto soloist - entering suddenly as if Overheard in the middle of a thought - who notices the solitary wanderer. A central section, actually an aria, describes the one who, having been scorned, now scorns all in return. The harmonic and rhythmic agitation of this section yields magically at the entrance of the men's voices and a turn to a consoling C major and a warmly ardent melody praying for the reconciliation of the wanderer.
Alto Rhapsody Text

But off apart there, who is that? 
His path gets lost in the brush; 
behind him the branches close again, 
the grass stands straight again, 
the solitude swallows him up.

Ah, who can heal the pain 
of one to whom balsam became poison? 
Who has drunk misanthropy 
from the fullness of love? 
First despised, now despising, 
he secretly wastes 
his own worth 
in unsatisfying egoism.

If there is in your Psalter, 
Father of Love, a single tone 
perceptible to his ear, 
then revive his heart! 
Open his cloud-covered sight 
onto the thousand fountains 
beside the thirsting soul 
in the desert.

                   -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Guest Artists

Peggy Balensuela

Mezzo soprano Peggy Balensuela is an Associate Professor of Voice at Indiana State University. An active recitalist and concert soloist, recent engagements have included Messiahs in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Michigan City, Indiana, and Boise, Idaho; a Vivaldi Gloria in Danville, Illinois; a Verdi Requiem at Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana; a tour of the Midwest with the Chicago-based early music group Ars musica Chicago; as well as many appearances in the Terre Haute area. Dr. Balensuela has been a two-time recipient of the artist/fellowships to the Bach Aria Festival and Institute in Stony Brook, New York, and a three-time winner of fellowships to the Aspen Summer Music Festival. Upcoming performances include a solo recital at ISU in September 1997 and an engagement as soloist with the Amarillo, Texas Philharmonic in a performance of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody.

ISU Singing Statesmen

Richard Zielinski, director

Tenor I
Alan Alder
Doug Champion
Alan Jacobs
Scott Jackson
Jason Weidner

Tenor II
Jeremy Baugh
Jason Dick
Paul Ellison
James Hilton
Joesph Howard
Alex Lewis
Warren Weitkamp

Bass I
Matt Altizer
Vince Antrim
Mike Daniels
Paul Ellison
Brandon Kirby
Bill Leschorn
Chad Miller
Joseph Rayes
Matt Shepperd
Michael Trexler
Matthew Weatherly
Bryan Wooden

Bass II
Stephen Beebe
Arthur Crippen
John Koenig III
Cain Hall
Ewe Hanson
Bryan Pagdett
John Pinson
Kenton Saylor
Chris Wood

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