Five Hundred years ago Martin Luther set in motion one of the most transformative movements in Western Civilization: The Protestant Reformation. I Cantori, Savannah’s premier choral ensemble, is honoring that anniversary with a commemorative concert, Celebration 500, on Friday, November 3, at Messiah Lutheran Church on Skidaway Island. The concert, under the baton of founding musical director Dr. Robert Harris, begins at 7:30 and will feature more than four centuries of music by Lutheran composers beginning with Martin Luther’s own original version of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
Other compositions include two works by the 16th century German composer Heinrich Schütz. Harris enthusiastically said that “Schütz was perhaps the first great genius composer who devoted his career to Lutheran church music. Born exactly 100 years before Bach he has always been one of my favorite neglected composers.”
“Johann Sebastian Bach is the true giant among all Lutheran musicians. Rather than pretend that we can do him justice with a few selections, we have chosen to represent his monumental church music ouvre with several varied chorale (Lutheran hymn melodies) settings. No other composer compares with the imagination of J. S. Bach when it comes to building a composition around a familiar melody.”
Other composers represented include Michael Praetorius, Melchoir Frank, Andreas Hammerschmidt, and Felix Mendelssohn. The concert will close with a more up to date composition by Hugo Distler. Harris spoke of Distler in virtual reverence: “Distler served St. Thomas, the same church in Leipzig which had been Bach’s professional home for 28 years. He died tragically during World War II, cutting short the promising career of a young genius who was still in his 30’s.”
Lastly, Dr. Harris commented that the members of the audience will have the opportunity to join with the choir to sing several of the chorale melodies which are still found in the Lutheran hymnal. The concert begins at 7:30 on Friday, November 3 at Messiah Lutheran Church. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and will be available at the door. For more information call 912.925.7866.