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Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy
W. Bryce Hayes
While familiarly with Bach’s well-known themes exists in the general aspects of contemporary lifestyle, providing exposure to the choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) presents a particular challenge to the high school choral director. The purpose of this investigation is to provide a resource guide for the performance of choral masterworks of J. S. Bach at the high school level. For the purposes of narrowing this investigation, the following masterworks were reviewed: Magnificat, BWV 243; Mass in B Minor, BWV 232; Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248; St. John Passion, BWV 245; and St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244. A review of literature examined biographical and historical information, as well as choral pedagogy for high school singers. Three overarching categories were defined in order to focus the scope of this investigation, (1) Context: The Masterwork and Movement; (2) Analysis: The Learner, Singer, and Musician; and (3) Performance: Rehearsal/Concert Considerations. Within the three categories, specific criteria and parameters were defined to aid in the selection and preparation of suitable masterwork movements. Within the first category, “Context: The Masterwork and Movement,” investigation criteria included a historical introduction to the selection and consideration of the text and translation. Parameters defining these criteria were historical background, general difficulty levels, programming considerations, and meaning and application of the text to high school singers. Within the second category, “Analysis: The Learner, Singer, and Musician,” vocal considerations and compositional elements were designated as category criteria. Parameters defining these criteria included vocal range and passagios, tessitura, and flexibility as well as key and time signatures. Within the third category, “Performance: Rehearsal/Concert Considerations,” structural elements and performance recommendations were designated as category criteria. Parameters included formal structure, melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic structures, original instrumentation, and adaptation for modern high school performances, and the inclusion of professional soloists. Based on the categories, criteria, and study parameters, selected movements of the five Masterworks suitable for high school choral performance were analyzed. Embedded throughout the discussions are pedagogical recommendations pertaining to student acquisition, learning, and rehearsal strategies. A timeline of Bach’s life, text translations, and a summary reference chart are included in the appendixes.
Atkins, Lynn G. Jr., "J. S. Bach and the High School Choir: A Resource Guide for Teachers of Intermediate and Advanced Level High School Choirs" (2012). Dissertations. 87.