‘Bach as Artist and Theologian’ topic at seminary

   Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest composers of all time who grounded much of his work in the music of the church, might legitimately be called a theologian as well as an artist. A seminar at Princeton Theological Seminary on January 23 and 24, cosponsored by The Berkshire Institute for Theology and the Arts, will explore the composer’s dual role as artist and theologian, using both discussion and performance of Bach’s sacred works.
   Spiritual passion is the core of Bach’s sacred works, and his brilliance might be called the perfect fusion of music and theology. His B Minor Mass is a resplendent example of the depth of his own faith.
   "For Bach, all of his composing was a spiritual discipline. For him there were no clear lines of demarcation between sacred and secular styles. All was done to God’s glory," said Martin Tel, Princeton Seminary’s C.F. Seabrook Director of Music.
   The purpose of the conference is to bring the arts and theology together, according to David Wall, program coordinator for continuing education. "We (will) bring in some musicians who are playing Bach and we (will) do some discussion about Bach … talking about him biblically and theologically and musically," Mr. Wall said.
   The conference will begin on Friday, Jan. 23, with a performance by Veronica Jochum, a world-renowned concert pianist who has been teaching at Boston’s New England Conservatory for nearly 40 years. Michael Marissen, professor of music at Swarthmore College and author of "Bach’s St John Passion," will also speak and perform. He will join with Dr. Clifton Black, the Seminary’s Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology, for a presentation on biblical interpretation of the oratorio.
   On Saturday evening Fuma Sacra will perform Bach’s "St. John Passion." Fuma Sacra, conducted by Andrew Megill, is an ensemble-in-residence at Westminster Choir College in Princeton.
   Conferees will have the opportunity to visit the Scheide Library at Princeton University to see some of Bach’s original manuscripts.
   The cost of the event is $139. For more information or to register, call (609) 497-7990.