“I’m just aware of how unbelievably perfect the music is, and how our job, here in this moment on earth, is to do justice in any way possible … to Bach’s vision … It’s not a means to an end; it’s an end in itself. The end is the ineffable beauty of this music,” John Eliot Gardiner.
The Mass in b-minor of Johann Sebastian Bach is indisputably one of the highest peaks of human artistic achievement. Compiled in the last two years of his life, the work is made up of movements repurposed and reworked from earlier creations, as well as other newly composed, and represents a broad spectrum of forms and styles from aria and ritornello to passacaglia and fugue. In the choral repertoire of Western music, few works come close to its range of expression, mastery of musical architecture, profundity of feeling. Given the challenges and rewards, it is fitting that AURA chamber choir and its out-going director, Imant Raminsh, have chosen the work to celebrate their fortieth anniversary of music-making in the Okanagan.
AURA’s first presentation of the work in 1989 was undertaken to mark its 10th anniversary and was the first complete performance ever in the Okanagan (perhaps in the B.C. Interior). The work was reprised in 2004, this time to celebrate AURA’s 25th anniversary. On April 27 joined by the Vivace Chorale of Kamloops, a 25-member professional orchestra, and five outstanding soloists (including Vernon-native Lynn McMurtry, contralto and Salmon Arm based Stephanie Nakagawa and Andrea Roberts, sopranos), AURA will mark its 40th season and Raminsh’s final appearance with this majestic work.
A number of AURA singers in the upcoming performance were with the choir for its 2004 performance. For Raminsh, each successive relearning and revisiting of the Mass reveals new complexity, surprises and challenges. A great work of art is never complete.
The performance takes place Saturday, April 27, at 2:30 p.m. at Trinity United Church.