Performers

WORCESTER BACH COLLECTIVE

Under the umbrella of Music Worcester, one of the nation’s oldest concert presenters, the Worcester Bach Collective brings together a wide range of musical organizations in Worcester.

A city rich in choirs, the venerable Worcester Chorus, the resident choir of Music Worcester, will be joined by several of the city’s college, church, and community choirs, as well as the Worcester Children’s Choir.

In the cantatas, they will be conducted by their own music directors and accompanied by a roster of top-tier players from Worcester and Boston, as well as in collaborative performances with the Worcester Chamber Music Society.

Partner Organizations

We will regularly feature outstanding area choirs and orchestras who are particularly associated with the music of J.S. Bach. This includes Handel and Haydn Society and Emmanuel Music from Boston; period players from the Winchendon Music Festival in northern Worcester County; and CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists), Connecticut’s oldest professional choir, from Hartford.

Guest Ensembles

In addition to partner ensembles who will give repeat performances throughout the project, we will also engage groups that have appeared for Music Worcester in recent years, such as Orpheus, A Far Cry, The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, The Knights, The Sebastiens, and other outstanding chamber ensembles, when they are touring with Bach programs.

As the project develops, we also hope to include Bach choirs from throughout the United States and beyond, particularly those who have, themselves, taken on complete Bach cantata cycles. We are in discussions with several international festivals about ways in which we might place THE COMPLETE BACH in a global context—both in our own tours, and in hosting like-minded ensembles on American tours.

Guest Soloists

It is still too early in the planning process to name all of the many vocal and instrumental soloists who will take part, but three instrumentalists who have had long associations with Music Worcester will play an important role in presenting all of Bach’s music in Worcester—pianist Simone Dinnerstein and her Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra Baroklyn, violinist Vijay Gupta, and conductor/keyboardist Ian Watson.

Vocal soloists, many from CONCORA and Emmanuel Music, as well as guest soloists such as Music Worcester favorites soprano Esther Heideman, countertenor Ryland Angel, and baritone/conductor Malcolm Merriweather, will return to Worcester to sing with us.

Artistic Director

Chris Shepard has had a long affinity for Baroque music, as both a conductor and keyboard player. He has conducted all of Bach’s major choral works several times, in addition to founding the Sydneian Bach Choir in Sydney, Australia, which performed all of Bach’s choral cantatas from 2004 to 2013.

He has been the steward of two longstanding annual Handel Messiah traditions. Since 2009, he has conducted the Worcester Chorus’s annual performance at Mechanics Hall (begun in 1900), and from 2015 to 2023, the annual performance at Carnegie Hall by the Masterwork Chorus of New Jersey (a six-decade tradition). He also conducts CONCORA, Connecticut’s oldest professional choir.

His PhD thesis on the performance history of the Mass in B Minor received ACDA’s 2012 Julius Herford Prize for outstanding dissertation in choral music. As a guest conductor, Chris has led performances of Bach and Handel’s music in the Americas, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. He holds degrees from the Hartt School, Yale and the University of Sydney.

Chris Shepard, Ruth Susan Westheimer Artistic Director of The Complete Bach Project

This Love Between Us

VIJAY GUPTA & THE WORCESTER CHORUS

MECHANICS HALL, NOVEMBER 2023