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Cantata Retreat

A New Bachfest Experience in Leipzig, Germany
February 20 - 26, 2024
Trip Status: CLOSED


Tour Cost: $2950; Single Supplement $425;
ABS Members:  $2650, Single Supplement $425.
Activity Level: moderate – an ability to walk 2 hours at a moderate pace
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Bachfest 2023 opened up new avenues for some of us. We got together and brainstormed and came up with a wonderful idea: a cantata retreat around one of the monthly concerts put on by Bachfest. In collaboration with Miguel Rodé, founder of The Cantata Trail, and Michael Maul, Artistic Director of Bachfest, Artful Journeys is embarking on a series of virtual meetings and a retreat, featuring many of Bach's cantatas. 

Bach was an absolute genius: during his first three years as kapellmeister in Leipzig, he wrote 150 cantatas, basically one cantata every week to be sung in church. It is difficult to comprehend such a prodigious creator. He wrote other music, too, that wasn't necessarily for church use: wedding and funeral masses, etudes and dances for his kids and the Thomanerchor, the passions, and the cantatas that were really little operas, such as the coffee cantata. The depth and range of emotions he evokes in these different forms of music is huge. I think most of you reading this recognize his genius. 

The retreat will be focused on the cantatas performed at the February 23, 2024 concert, led by Hermann Max conducting the Rheinische Kantorei. The music to be discussed, sung and then discussed again will be BWV 73 (Herr, wie du willt, so schick's mit mir), BWV 81 (Jesus schlaeft, was soll ich hoffen), BWV 144 (Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin) BWV 81 (Erfreute Zeit im neunen Bunde) and BWV 181 (Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister). Our discussions will be led by Miguel Rodé and Michael Maul. We hope also to include one or two of the performers. 

Our retreat will begin on the evening of February 20 (giving you time to rest after arriving in Leipzig), when we will have dinner, a meet and greet, and then have an overview of Bach and his cantatas. The next two days, on February 21 and 22, we will meet again each day to discuss two of the cantatas to be sung on the 23rd. (The order of discussion has not yet been established). On the 23rd, Miguel will lead a discussion of the remaining cantata. Then, on this evening, we will listen intently to the performance in the Sankt Nikolai Kirche. The following day we will hold a debriefing discussion to assess expectations versus reality! 

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During our non-discussion times in Leipzig, we'll visit the Bach Museum, Old City Hall, and perhaps the Mendelssohn Haus. And as Leipzig is the city of music, we hope to include some organ music at one of the churches. An evening at the Gewandhaus will take us to hear Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. The museum of art has some quite stunning works also! Over the weekend, we will take the train to Eisenach, to visit the Bachhaus, where the composer was purportedly born; the Lutherhaus, in commemoration of the 500th year of his hymnal, and to Saint George's church, where Bach's forefathers played the organ and taught young JSB, who was also baptized there. 
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We'll stay at the Ibis Leipzig City, in the center of old Leipzig and very near the Sankt Nikolai church. Most meals will be included in the trip cost as well as accommodation, ground transportation in Germany, tickets to all venues and performances and teacher and admin fees. The trip cost does not include personal purchases or airfare. 
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Hermann Max (Conductor):
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Hermann Max has been writing the history of historical performance practice of early music for decades. As a conductor of his own ensembles, the vocal ensemble Rheinische Kantorei and the orchestra Das Kleine Konzert, he sets standards in concerts, radio recordings and CD productions. As a guest conductor of modern and traditional orchestras, he constantly expands the spectrum of historical-critical music-making into the 19th century and to the present day. As a lecturer, he is passionate about teaching at international seminars and symposia. As an editor, he makes his new editions of musical rarities available to an interested public. And as a festival director, he has been shaping the classical landscape between Cologne and Düsseldorf for over 30 years with the Knechsteden Early Music Festival. 

An entire musical landscape has been rediscovered or completed by the work of Hermann Max: the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, of his sons and numerous relatives, that of his predecessors and Thomaskantor successors and of his contemporaries, colleagues and students. Another of Max's focal points is his engagement with Georg Philipp Telemann's music, for which he has been awarded the Telemann-Preis in 1998 by the city of Magdeburg. 


Apart from working with his ensembles, Hermann Max appears regularly as a guest conductor at home and abroad and teaches the interpretation of historical music. In 1992 he founded the Festival Alte Musik, which takes places annually in September in the romanesque basilica of the Knechtsteden cloister.



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Miguel Rodé 

Miguel Rodé was born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay and moved to the US in 2002 as part of his Information Technology career and currently resides in Seattle, WA. A life-long music lover, over the years Miguel developed a special fascination with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and in particular with his cantatas and other vocal works. During the Covid pandemic, Miguel initiated a series of virtual meetings called "The Cantata Trail" with the intent of sharing this incredibly rich musical universe with some close friends. This small community grew organically through word of mouth to its current size of about 70 members. As a musician, Miguel plays the baroque flute and is a member of several chamber ensembles in the Seattle area, for which he also enjoys transcribing and arranging music. 

Joan Hill
Owner, Host, & Director

In 2008, the seed of Artful Journeys was planted in her brain, when Joan brought together all of her life's passions, her love of music, an affinity for the beautiful things in life, and an ability to organize events to give birth to Artful Journeys, a program of art education trips for the soul. 

Joan was born and raised in the apple country of the Hudson River Valley in New York; her father was a gentle, very tolerant, educated land surveyor, and her mother was the efficient business administrator and home engineer. The youngest of four children, Joan was encouraged to pursue anything she wanted, but also to do her best. Sometimes that was very difficult, especially succeeding three very accomplished siblings.



$2,950, double occupancy
ABS Members:  $2,650, double occupancy
Single supplement is $425.
  • Includes accommodations, most meals, all ticketed events, teacher and administrative fees.

  • Not included are personal purchases and pampering.

  • NOTE: A deposit of $500 is required upon registration to secure a place in this workshop.

  • Airfare is not included to enable travelers to use their “travel points,” upgrade flight arrangements, or to extend their trip.

  • Travel insurance is strongly encouraged. Please see the Travel Insurance Form.

  • A full complement of Covid vaccinations are required to participate in an Artful Journeys trip.

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To register for this journey, please click below:

Please note that PayPal remittances must go through the form on this website.  Thank you.

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