Bach Cantata Series: UMD Choral Activities

Bach Cantata Series

UMD Choral Activities
Thursday, February 1, 2024 • 1:30PM
Photo by Hayley Fahey.
Special Announcement: 

The livestream of this event will only be available to view during the performance. The video will not be available for viewing after the concert.

Event Attributes

Presented By

Presented By: 

For more information regarding accessible accommodations, please click here.

Estimated Length: 
30 minutes


Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben? (Dearest God, when shall I die?)

Kobe Brown, conductor
Paige Peercy, soprano
Mykayla Brown, alto
Joshua Lee, tenor
Nicholas Matthew, bass

J.S. Bach, known as the great master, wrote more than 200 cantatas, and UMD Choral Activities aims to sing them all in this series of short performances led by conductors in the graduate program. This performance will feature “Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?” (Dearest God, When Shall I Die).

BWV 8 “Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?” was first performed at the Sunday service at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig on September 24, 1724, during Bach's second season of writing a weekly cantata. Its opening chorus and the closing chorale are based on the seventeenth-century hymn of the same name, for which Daniel Vetter, one of Bach's organist predecessors in Leipzig, had written the melody.

This cantata delves into existential themes of the inevitability of death, both in its text and musically. The opening movement acts as one giant clock, with the pizzicato strings acting as the internal mechanisms of the clock, and the flute periodically playing repeated bell-like sixteenth notes in groups of twenty four, suggesting the passing of time as mentioned in the words of the hymn. The chorus sings the phrases of the chorale on the text, "When will I die? My time is constantly running out…" Against this sustained music, two oboes d'amore play a dance-like duet, portraying death as tauntingly coaxing the hearer to their ultimate demise.


Led by choral conducting alumnus Jason Max Ferdinand D.M.A. ’15, UMD's choral program is internationally regarded and offers students a wide array of choral experiences with music encompassing all styles and eras. In addition to this season’s on campus performances, the UMD Concert Choir participates in annual collaborations with both the National Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at premier venues including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall and Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.