The Passion Music of Dieterich Buxtehude

Event time: 
Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 3:30pm
Event description: 

Yale Schola Cantorum Sings Buxtehude Masterpiece

Yale Schola Cantorum, the 24-voice chamber choir directed by Simon Carrington, together with the Yale Collegium Players directed by Robert Mealy, and soloists from the Yale Graduate program in voice led by James Taylor, will mark the tercentenary of the death of Dieterich Buxtehude (ca. 1637-1707) with three performances of the composer’s Membra Jesu Nostri. The work will be performed twice in Connecticut: in Hartford in Grace Episcopal Church (55 New Park Ave.) at 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 31. The distinguished Buxtehude scholar Kerala Snyder will give a preconcert talk at 7 pm. The New Haven concert will take place Sunday, April 1 at 8 pm at St. Mary’s Church (5 Hillhouse Ave.), with the preconcert talk at 7:15 pm. The work will also be performed in New York City at St. Michael’s Church (225 W. 99th St ) on April 2 at 8 pm (preconcert talk at 7:15).

Buxtehude was one of the most influential composers in Northern Europe during the seventeenth century. Although best known for his organ works, he also composed a large amount of sacred vocal music. Membra Jesu Nostri is a cycle of seven separate cantatas, each devoted to one of the members of Christ’s crucified body: feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head. Their texts come from a medieval Latin poem, and Buxtehude’s music is intimate and devotional, eschewing the dramatic style that he himself cultivated in his famous “Abendmusiken” concerts and that became normative for eighteenth-century oratorio-passions. In a seventeenth-century church service these seven cantatas might have been set apart from one another by portions of the liturgy, and so the New Haven performance will also feature interpolations of other music by Buxtehude in a variety of styles, including chorale settings, sonatas for violin, viola da gamba and continuo, and a dramatic setting of the Isaiah text “Surely he has borne our grief.”

Grace Episcopal Church, Hartford

55 New Park Ave., Hartford

Saturday March 31 at 7:30 PM


St. Mary’s Church, New Haven

5 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven

Sunday April 1 at 8 PM

St. Michael’s Church, New York

225 West 99th St., New York, NY

Monday April 2 at 8 PM


No admission charge; no tickets required