On December 5th at two o’clock in Auer Hall, the Jacobs School of Music’s Early Music Institute will perform a rendering of the Christmas story like none other.
The Christmas Story (Weinachts-Historie) of Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) presents the nativity of Jesus of Nazereth in a series of scenes, or Intermedia.
The Intermedia are connected with a series of recitations by an Evangelist who carries the story until an appropriate stopping point where a specific scene is played out by a soloist or group of singers paired with some very characteristic instruments: shepherds with recorders, King Herod with heraldic cornetti, pompous highpriests with sackbuts (a relative of the trombone).
Professor Nigel North has prepared the Concentus ensemble for this performance and notes that Schütz’s Christmas Story was presented as part of a worship service, so it had a different function in the portrayal of the birth. “Everybody would have known the story and they were just waiting for the next bit of the story. It was probably the blessing of having an illustrated sermon rather than perhaps a dull, spoken one on such a joyful day.”