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Rainbow Lifelong Learning Institute, Boston

The Extraordinary Cantatas of J S BACH: An Exploration

with Liz Diamond



This course will take place on Wednesdays at 10:30 AM for five weeks (1/18/23 - 2/15/23).  This course will be on Zoom.

Course Description:

"Every emotion is laid bare and dissected, and the painful paradoxes of being human are brought to vivid life.” Pam Dellal, Bach scholar, mezzo soprano, and Director/The Bach Institute, Emmanuel Church/Boston

This class is designed to reveal the musical genius of Bach through his largely hidden cantata gems, which span a huge emotional arc—from joyful to terrifying, playful to grief-ridden, loving to dramatic. Students will experience a variety of Bach’s cantatas out of the 200 extant ones, their magnificence and surprises, their universality and relevance in our own lives. Our exploration will include biographical and historical context, examination of musical elements, and student presentations. Students with any level of musical background (including none) are all welcome! Questions and class discussion are encouraged.

Class Schedule:

Class 1—Introduction and potpourri of vastly different cantatas—including Hell, Lullaby for the Soul, Paradise, Eternity, Murder, and more. Assignment: Cantata BWV 1

Class 2—Discuss BWV 1; will focus on Counterpoint as a Democratic Society, Creativity of the Chorale Cantata, Magnificent Melismas, Setting Words to Music, Use of Solo Instruments to Get Congregation’s Attention, What IS a Recitative? Dance Music comes to Church!, A Love Song, and Unabashed Joy. Assignment: Cantata BWV 78

Class 3—Discuss BWV 78; Will include Deliciously Distinctive Duets—voice and instrumental, Crazy Contrasts in the same Cantata, An Almost Lullaby, Fascinatin’ Rhythm, Lyrics of Heartache, Rant Against Scatterbrained People, a Slightly Risque (NON-Religious) Cantata Duet, and two movements of PURE JOY! Assignment: Cantata BWV 178

Class 4—Discuss BWV 178; Presentation of unique styles including dance-like, graceful, dramatic, emotional and bonus material. Beginning of student presentations.

Class 5—Continuation of student presentations; hand-outs.

Course Leader:

Liz Diamond has a Masters from Lesley College in Education/Integrated Arts and a BA from BU/Concentration in Music. She plays flute, piano and guitar, and taught general music in the Salem MA Public Schools. She created Women’s Educational Media, Inc., producing lesbian educational outreach materials with national distribution. Liz happily represented Steinway Pianos as a piano consultant at M. Steinert & Sons/Boston. In retirement she has loved teaching classical music courses through Rainbow for the past few years. Other passions include walks by the ocean, photography, and talking with kids.

  • Jan 18 - Feb 15th, 2023
    Wed for 5 weeks from 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

    Will run

Online Class

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