November 14, 2017 @ 8:00 pm
Duke University Chapel
Duke Chapel
401 Chapel Dr, Durham, NC 27705
Duke Performances

St Thomas Choir

The Thomanerchor — otherwise known as the St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig, whose most famous cantor was Johann Sebastian Bach — is one of the world’s most enduring musical institutions. Founded in 1212 to provide music for church services, The Thomanerchor hired Bach in 1723; he held the position until his death and is buried at St. Thomas. Bach’s music remains a mainstay of the choir’s repertoire, and its fifty exceptionally talented boy singers, all between the ages of nine and eighteen still perform his works every Sunday. In recent decades the enormous choir has made international touring a central part of its activities, taking the entire ensemble beyond the church walls of Leipzig and out into the world. The New York Times calls the choir’s sound “magnificent, soaring, poignant, ethereal.”

Inside the appropriately gothic setting of Duke Chapel, the Thomanerchor sings sacred works by Germany’s most revered composers. Led by cantor Gotthold Schwarz and organist Stefan Altner, the Choir sings a Psalm setting and a selection of motets by early baroque composer Heinrich Schütz. The choristers turn next to a hymn setting and a sacred madrigal by Schütz’s contemporary and Bach’s predecessor at St. Thomas by a hundred years, Johann Schein. At the center of the concert are three Bach motets: Fürchte dich nicht, Komm, Jesu, komm, and Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf, all for double choir. The Thomanerchor also includes several works from the nineteenth century: Felix Mendelssohn’s setting of the Forty-Third Psalm, and two movements from his Deutsche Liturgie: “Kyrie eleison” and “Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe.”


  • Schütz: The One-Hundredth Psalm, SWV 36
  • Schein: “Her Gott, du unser Zuflucht bist,” from Cantional oder Gesangbuch Augspurgischer Confession
  • Schein: “Nu danket alle Gott,” from Israelsbrünnlein
  • Bach: Fürchte dich nicht, BWV 228
  • Bach: Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229
  • Mendelssohn: The Forty-Third Psalm
  • Mendelssohn: “Kyrie eleison” and “Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe” from Die Deutsche Liturgie
  • Schütz: “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt,” SWV 380; “Verleih uns Frieden,” SWV 372; and “Gib unsern Fürsten,” SWV 373, from Geistliche Chormusik
  • Bach: Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226

“Surely this is what it must have been like to hear Bach lead the ensemble in one of his cantatas.” – The New York Times