Old masters and new songs—an impressive Pentecost concert

“Great! Outstanding! Wonderful voices! A fantastic programme!”—such were the unanimous reactions to the evening’s musical programme. Pentecost concerts are legendary. The special thing about this year was a children’s choir from Cape Town that performed in Wiesbaden.

The Wiesbaden Kurhaus—a worthy venue for a festive concert in a historical setting. The princely building boasts twelve magnificent halls and ballrooms. The foyer, with its 21-metre-high dome, is most impressive, and the technical amenities are state of the art—an optimal setting for both the artists and audience of this year’s Pentecost concert. The programme features old masters and new songs alike. And it all begins with the boisterous sound of drums, timpani, and piano—with over 100 children from the Hesse-South children’s choir taking to the stage in orange-coloured T-shirts. The “African Alleluia” by Jay Althouse resounds. The American artist, who was born in 1951, lives in South Carolina, and his works to date include some 600 titles.

Pentecost means commitment and joy

Thereafter, the international Church leader, Jean-Luc Schneider, addresses the audience. He speaks of commitment and dedication, but also of joy and the help of God. It is precisely on Pentecost that these notions play such a great role: our dedication to the gospel is accompanied by the joy of the Holy Spirit. The Chief Apostle’s wish for himself and all concertgoers is that all may be able to shut out the cares of daily life and allow themselves to be prepared for the Pentecost service.

The splendid oratorio “Paul” was written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi. The young composer began working on this piece in 1832, and in 1836 it was performed for the first time at the eighteenth annual Lower Rhine Music Festival in Düsseldorf—right on Pentecost Sunday. It is a many-facetted work, which endeavours to showcase the entire breadth of Apostle Paul’s character. The South Hesse Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and South Hesse Concert Choir performed the overture and two chorales from this piece under the baton of their conductor Burkhard A. Schmitt.

Further works from the Baroque and Romantic periods resound next—glorious voices blending together through some highly demanding chords: the choir is tried and tested, and masters every challenge to produce a most impressive sound. This is particularly true with Peter Cornelius’ “Ich will dich lieben, meine Krone”.

We are children of the light

Now sporting blue T-shirts, twelve young ladies take to the stage: under the direction of Anthea Rohde, the children’s choir from Cape Town begins its performance in the middle of the concert. It is certainly impressive to witness the elegance and discipline that the twelve young performers exhibit as they go to work. “Come, Spirit, come!” is the name of their simple, but very emotional hymn. And the choir and orchestra respond with “We are children of the light and of the day” by Mark Hayes, a work that fits beautifully into the musical setting of the concert.

Chief Apostle Schneider, who now takes to the stage once more for some closing words, praises all artists and musicians. “Speaking very personally, I am very impressed! This was a wonderful preparation for the coming Sunday,” says the Church leader. And he shows his gratitude with enduring applause directed at all performers.

He then goes on to ask his predecessor in ministry, Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber, to say a few words. The latter is particularly pleased with the diversity of the programme: “There was such great stylistic diversity—and yet everything was geared toward the Holy Spirit,” he says expressing his assessment in the form of a call to action: “So let us also enjoy this feast of Pentecost together, namely in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”

The impressive concert on the evening before Pentecost Sunday 2016 came to a close with an additional performance by all participating musicians.

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