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Classical 101

J.S. Bach's Choir Marks Its 800th Birthday

When Johann Sebastian Bach joined the choir at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, it was already 475 years old.  Now, the choir celebrates its 800th birthday going as strong as ever.

When the St. Thomas Choir tours, it performs before thousands of music lovers in packed auditoriums around the world. Â For its 800th anniversary, a movie has been released which offers a behind-the-scenes look at not only what it takes to make great music, but what goes into molding the lives of these young men.

You can see a preview of the movie here. Read & watch Bach Choir Marks 800 Years (BBC)

Resurrecting Composers' Reputations, in the Studio

With performing groups finding it more and more difficult to attract audiences to concert halls for traditional performances, they are looking for other ways to attract new ears for their music. While music lovers may not be able to set aside two hours for a concert experience as readily as they once did, making your music easily accessible to them is becoming the "new normal."

While orchestras continue to perform and record the recognized masters, there is a push for new material, both by living composers and long forgotten ones.

Conductor, rock guitarist, author and cellist Kenneth Woods became Principal Guest Conductor of Stratford-upon-Avon-based Orchestra of the Swan in 2010. He is active with the orchestra in concert as well as recordings, beginning with an all-Mahler CD for Somm Records released to critical acclaim in the spring of 2011. He has recently begun working on world premiere recordings of the four symphonies by Austrian émigré composer Hans Gál, who lived until 1987, alongside those by Robert Schumann.  Though most have never heard Hans Gál's music...Woods, for one, thinks you should. Read Little Known Composers Get Their Due in the Studio, if Not the Concert Hall (Washington Post) Watch & listen as Kenneth Woods introduces you to Hans Gál. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir7s5dsSr-A&

 A Century After his Death, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Getting Some Long-Overdue Recognition

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a successful conductor, composer of miniatures, and professor (First at Trinity College of Music, then the Guildhall School of Music). Samuel Coleridge-Taylor kept a punishing schedule trying to keep food on the table.  His decision to sell the rights to his 1898 cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast cost him the income which would have enabled him to lead a less frenetic existence and, one presumes, write much more music. Alas, his schedule eventually took its toll...and he died of pneumonia at the age of thirty-seven. A number of recordings of his music have been made in recent years, music well worth exploring further. Read Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Gramophone Magazine)