Music from Kobe: Bach Collegium Japan
Choirs from Kobe and Tokyo formed the internationally renowned Bach Collegium Japan
The capital of the Hyogo Prefecture is not only hosting the International Choir Festival & Competition Sing'n'Pray Kobe but also home of an ensemble consisting of a baroque orchestra and choir.
Born in Kobe 1954 and raised with a Christian background, the Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki founded in 1990 the Bach Collegium Japan by merging a Kobe choir and a student choir from Tokyo when he was about to organize a Bach concert. The experiment turned out to be successful and so the ensemble nowadays lists numerous acclaimed performances in Japan as well as worldwide. Be it the Edinburgh Festival, the Bach Festival in Leipzig or the Hong Kong Arts Festival – the Bach Collegium Japan is a sought-after guest at musical festivals all over the world.
The ensemble focuses on the works of Bach and other Baroque composers such as Dietrich Buxtehude, Heinrich Schütz or Georg Böhm and performs with period instruments. In 1995, five years after its founding, the Masaaki Suzuki’s group started the task to record the complete church cantatas by Bach, which took 18 years of hard work and resulted in 55 Cds of Bach - a mammoth task which they completed in 2013.
Nevertheless it was a difficult start for the Baroque musicians, as Suzuki told the newspaper The Guardian in an interview in 2006:
“We don't have any choir tradition in Japan. My choristers mainly come from the university in Tokyo, but their professors belong to the so-called traditional values of the operatic world."
So finding choral singers was one of the major tasks at the beginning of the Bach Collegium. Another major obstacle proved to be the fragmentary access to the Christian texts of Bach’s sacred music pieces – a problem they tackled with the help of their conductor and thus developed into an exceptional ensemble performing throughout the capitals worldwide.
One of the main venues at which the group regularly performs nowadays still is the Kobe Shoin Women’s University Chapel. So visitors and participants of the International Choir Festival & Competition Sing'n'Pray Kobe 2018 might also have the chance to enjoy this world famous music ensemble. Sing'n'Pray Kobe is based on the "Pray from Kobe Concert", which was first held in 2012 in Kobe in order to sing and pray for the victims of the huge earthquake and tsunami around Fukushima on the east side of Japan in March 2011.
More information about the International Choir Festival & Competition Sing'n'Pray Kobe 2018 can be found on the official website. Early Bird Registration Deadline ends on July 19.