Bach Christmas Cantatas

Bach Christmas Cantatas

In collaboration with Music Worcester and The Complete Bach

Friday, December 6 @7:30 PM
First Unitarian Church
90 Main Street, Worcester

Pre-concert talk @7:00 PM by Chris Shepherd, Artistic Director of the Worcester Chorus and The Complete Bach

Our winter Baroque concert this year takes on a special shimmer as we join forces with guest musicians and vocalists to present J.S. Bach’s Christmas Cantatas (nos. 32, 151, and 132). Replete with rich orchestration and stunning vocal parts, this is Bach at his finest, and a perfect way to welcome the holiday season.

Johann Sebastian Bach
BWV 32 – Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen
BWV 151 – Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt
BWV 132 – Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn

With guests:
Soloists Kristen Watson, soprano / Krista River, alto / Matthew Anderson, tenor /
David McFerrin, bass
Instrumentalists Kirsten Lipkins, oboe / Nathan Varga, double bass / John McKean, harpsichord

This performance is presented as part of Music Worcester’s The Complete Bach, an 11-year project to present all of J.S. Bach’s music in advance of his 350th birthday.

Adults $45
Seniors $42
College Students $10

EBT/WIC/ConnectorCare $5
Youth 17 and under free

Tracy Kraus, flute
Krista Buckland Reisner, violin
Rohan Gregory, violin
Mark Berger,  viola
Ariana Falk, cello

Guest Artists

Matthew Anderson, tenorWith a “voice of exceptional dramatic flair and excellent tone,” Tenor Matthew Anderson is a versatile and compelling performer of opera, oratorio, and musical theater. An accomplished interpreter of the music of Bach, Mr. Anderson sings regularly as a soloist in Boston’s renowned Emmanuel Music Bach Cantata Series. He is a prizewinner in the American Bach Society and Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competitions. Recent performances from Mr. Anderson’s varied repertoire include the Boston premiere of Galina Grigorjeva’s On Leaving with the Boston Symphony, Handel’s Acis and Galatea (Damon) with the Mark Morris Dance Group; Scarlatti’s La Caduta de’ Decemviri with ACRONYM at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Bach’s Coffee Cantata with Boston Baroque; Mozart’s Requiem with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall; Stravinsky’s Renard at Tanglewood and the Mostly Mozart Festival with the Mark Morris Dance Group; Handel’s Messiah with the Masterwork Chorus at Carnegie Hall; John Harbison’s Winter’s Tale with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; and Britten’s Les Illuminationswith The Orchestra of Indian Hill. He has sung with conductors Masaaki Suzuki, Nicholas McGegan, Paul Goodwin, Harry Christophers, Martin Pearlman, John Harbison, Craig Smith, Julian Wachner, and Laurence Cummings and appeared as soloist with ensembles such as the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Cantata Singers, and the Handel Choir of Baltimore. Also recognized as a gifted performer of the American songbook, Mr. Anderson recently joined Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops for their Bernstein Centennial Tribute at Boston Symphony Hall. In previous seasons, he has appeared with the Pops in Carousel (as Mr. Snow) and in celebrations of the music of Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter. Mr. Anderson studied Classics at Harvard and voice at the New England Conservatory.  He is a Kansas native and lives in Cambridge with his husband John and daughter Nora.


David McFerrin, baritoneHailed for his “voice of seductive beauty” (Miami Herald), baritone David McFerrin has won critical acclaim in a variety of genres. His opera credits include Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, the Rossini Festival in Germany, and numerous roles with Boston Lyric Opera and other local companies. As concert soloist he has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Handel and Haydn Society, and in recital at the Caramoor, Ravinia, and Marlboro Festivals. He was runner-up in the Oratorio Society of New York’s 2016 Lyndon Woodside Solo Competition, the premier US contest for this repertoire. David is also a member of the renaissance vocal ensemble Blue Heron, winners of the 2018 Gramophone award for Best Early Music Album. Recent performance highlights have included the role of Thoas in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride with Boston Baroque; Monteverdi’s dramatic scena Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with American Bach Soloists in the Bay Area; and two turns as Lucifer/the Devil––one in a filmed production of Handel’s La Resurrezione with Emmanuel Music and the other in Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” with Aston Magna Music Festival. David lives in Natick, Massachusetts with his wife Erin Doherty, an architectural historian and preservation planner; their daughter Fiona; and black lab Holly.


Krista River, mezzo-sopranoMezzo-soprano Krista River has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, the Cape Cod Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society, the Florida Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, Odyssey Opera, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and Boston Baroque. Winner of the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and a Sullivan Foundation grant recipient, her opera roles include Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Anna in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, Nancy in Britten’s Albert Herring, and the title role in Handel’s Xerxes. Ms. River made her Tanglewood debut in the role of Jordan Baker in John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. Other notable performances include the International Water and Life Festival in Qinghai, China, and recitals at Jordan Hall in Boston and the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos in Panama City, Panama. For Ms. River’s solo recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times praised her “shimmering voice…with the virtuosity of a violinist and the expressivity of an actress.” Ms. River appears on numerous recordings, including Wasting the Night: Songs (music of Scott Wheeler) and Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s recording of Tobias Picker’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, for which she won a Grammy award.  Ms. River began her musical career as a cellist, earning her music degree at St. Olaf College. She resides in Boston and is a regular soloist with Emmanuel Music’s renowned Bach Cantata Series.


Kristen Watson | sopranoSoprano Kristen Watson, hailed by critics for her “blithe and silvery” tone (The Boston Globe) and “striking poise” (Opera News), has made solo appearances with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Mark Morris Dance Group, American Classical Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society, and Boston Baroque at such venues as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Boston’s Symphony Hall. Praised for her “keen musicianship, agility and seamless control” (San Antonio Express), Ms. Watson has been recognized by the Concert Artists Guild, Oratorio Society of New York, Joy in Singing, American Bach Society, and Louisville Bach Society competitions and was awarded both the Virginia Best Adams Fellowship at the Carmel Bach Festival and the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellowship with Emmanuel Music.

Opera audiences have heard her in productions with Odyssey Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Boston, Intermezzo Opera, Opera Providence, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Five College Opera and the Boston University Opera Institute in such roles as Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Adele in Die Fledermaus and the Voice of the Fountain in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar directed by Peter Sellars. A versatile crossover artist, she has also performed frequently as a soloist with the Boston Pops in programs ranging from Mozart to Richard Rodgers. Additional solo performances include the North Carolina Symphony, San Francisco Early Music Society, Trinity Wall Street, Boston Early Music Festival, Aston Magna Festival, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, A Far Cry, Gulf Coast Symphony, Topeka Symphony, Pittsburgh Camerata, Arcadia Players and Musicians of the Old Post Road. Ms. Watson holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Boston University and currently teaches privately at Brandeis University.


Kirsten Lipkens, oboeFor over 30 years, oboist Kirsten Lipkens has performed, taught, and created educational programs to inspire audiences of all ages to appreciate and explore the art of music. She studied oboe performance at Eastman School of Music and Yale School of Music. Her teachers include Alicia Chapman, Neil Boyer, Richard Killmer, Ronald Roseman, and Peggy Pearson. Kirsten performed in Japan, Europe, and the United States, with several appearances in Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center. She has played with symphony orchestras in Charlottesville(VA), Richmond(VA), Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Springfield(MA), Glens Falls(NY), Albany(NY), and Rhode Island. An avid chamber music artist, she founded a chamber music festival in the 1990s. As a member of The Battell Woodwind Quintet, she participated in a residency in Dodge City, KS sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and was a finalist in the Fischoff Competition. Most recently, as a member of the Deerfield Quintet, she enjoyed performing throughout Western Massachusetts. Kirsten taught at the University of Virginia, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, UMass Amherst, and Western New England University. She is currently teaching at Springfield College and Amherst College and is the principal oboe of NERO (New England Repertory Orchestra).


John McKean | harpsichordJohn McKean is a harpsichordist and musicologist based in Boston, where he serves on the faculty and is chair of the Historical Performance Department at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Frequently in demand as both a soloist and continuo player, he has performed extensively throughout Europe and North America, with concert engagements bringing him to venues as far afield as the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Fondazione Cini (Venice), Museu da Música (Lisbon), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (London), Norðurljós Hall (Reykjavík, Iceland), and the Philips Collection (Washington, DC). Critically acclaimed for his “intelligent” and “precise” playing (The Washington Post) as well as his “sonorous brilliance and thrilling, dance-like energy” (Allgäuer Zeitung), John performs with leading American and European ensembles, including Apollo’s Fire, Emmanuel Music, the Catacoustic Consort, Camerata Vocale Freiburg, Habsburger Camerata, and has appeared with the Jacksonville, Naples, Portland (Maine), and Pittsburg symphony orchestras (among others). He counts among his live radio broadcasts performances on NPR, BBC Radio 3, and Deutschlandradio Berlin.

John holds degrees in German Studies and Harpsichord Performance from Oberlin College/Conservatory and an advanced performance diploma from the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (Germany), where he studied with Lisa Crawford/Webb Wiggins and Robert Hill respectively. He received additional instruction over the years from some of the greatest modern masters of historical keyboards, including Arthur Haas, Jacques Ogg, Skip Sempé, Jesper Christensen, Ketil Haugsand, Mitzi Meyerson, Richard Egarr, and Gustav Leonhardt. He also holds an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Cambridge (U.K). His master’s thesis unearthed new details concerning the life and works of French harpsichord composer Gaspard Le Roux, while his doctoral dissertation examined the development of keyboard technique during the German Baroque. For several years he served as an assistant editor of the Oxford University Press journal Early Music. Beyond his musicological work and performing career, he also maintains an active interest in instrument building (he regularly performs on a 17th-century style Flemish harpsichord of his own making), music publishing, typography, and exploring the remote corners of his home state of Maine.


Nathan Varga, double bassNathan Varga maintains a vibrant career as a double bassist in the Boston area. His experience ranges from orchestral and chamber music to period performance, opera, and theater. He appears regularly with the Cape Symphony, Marsh Chapel Collegium, Bach Consort of Worcester, Grand Harmonie, and The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Other recent appearances include Nth Degree, Boston Opera Collaborative, Music from Salem New York, MetroWest Opera, Speakeasy Theatre Company, and the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society. Nathan holds degrees from Boston University and Baldwin Wallace College, having studied with Edwin Barker, Benjamin Levy, and Henry Peyrebrune. His orchestral training includes fellowships at Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra, Texas Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and Eastern Music Festival. Desiring to engage a diverse audience, he also enjoys playing original music and arranging covers with friends. Other interests include cycling, woodworking, and bicycle and auto-mechanics.