Music plays an enormous part in the success of the German Reformation. Martin Luther builds on communal hymn singing as a most effective means of spreading the word. Chorals become part of the fabric of Protestantism, building on the medieval heritage of Meistersinger and monasteries alike and informing the enormous output of Baroque music, culminating in the Cantatas by J S Bach. Henrike Lähnemann, Professor of Medieval German Studies, is working with Alex Lloyd, Lecturer in German, and Tom Hammond-Davies, Director of the Oxford Bach Soloists, to recreate the sound of the Reformation.
In the Summer of 2016 the Oxford Bach Soloists undertook a tour to Northern Germany with Henrike Lähnemann. Follow the epic journey from medieval liturgy to J.S. Bach and from Kloster Mariensee to the Michaeliskirche in Lüneburg: view the Programme online, live podcasts from the concerts on the Oxford Bach Soloists blog and photographs by Alex Lloyd and Jennifer Bunselmeier.
A short documentary film, ‘Singing the Reformation’, was launched at the Taylor Institution on 11 November 2016. The film, of the TORCH-funded trip of the Oxford Bach Soloists to Northern Germany, was shot by Alex Lloyd on the Faculty’s new visibility equipment:
On 24th February, Henrike Lähnemann spoke about “Pre-Reformation Hymns in Bach Cantatas: the Case of ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’”. This session explored the afterlife of popular vernacular medieval ‘Leisen’, following their transformation into chorales in the Reformation and then becoming signature tunes of Protestant identity. There was a staging of medieval congregational singing with the audience as well as excerpts from Bach’s cantata performed by members of the Oxford Bach Soloists.