The Peregrine Consort story begins back in the early 1990s, when I took a graduate course in J.S. Bach at Boston University with Dr. Joel Sheveloff. At the time this repertoire seemed underperformed and fresh, even though the complete Cantatas had already been recorded, and ensembles existed in the Boston area that performed them regularly. Recently hired as Organist at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Woburn, Massachusetts, I thought it might be exciting to perform one, so, for the church's one hundredth anniversary, I proposed a performance of Cantata 80 using a pick-up group of instrumentalists and (one-to-a-part) singers. The event was far more work than I thought it would be, but it was an honor, and fascinating to be able to lead a period-instrument ensemble.
For two decades, the idea of forming an ensemble to perform the Cantatas stayed on the back burner. Other endeavors and responsibilities came and went, but on the back burner the dream continued to stew. Sometime in 2014, while I still served as organist at Redeemer, then Pastor Cindy Jacobsen encouraged me to seriously explore new creative ventures. Of the likely possibilities, a Bach Cantata ensemble seemed the most viable. At this time I mentioned my nascent plan to violist/violinist Anne Black, who, to my surprise and delight, offered to help. After carefully pondering how best to proceed, we began to bring forth the idea of an ensemble of the finest musicians in the region who would travel to various locations primarily in the Boston suburbs. Working with our own community of supporters, donations would go toward future programming which would be free and open to the public. Events would be planned most often in partnership with religious institutions.
We conducted a Kickstarter campaign in the Fall of 2014, and surpassed our goal, which allowed us to present Cantata 51, one of those requiring the smallest number of personnel. The successful event, held in May of 2015 at Redeemer, had a very good turn-out, although even more would likely have come but for a severe rainstorm that started one hour before! This was enough to demonstrate the real desire for Bach Cantata performances in the region. Almost without realizing it, we had formed (or stumbled upon) a community of supporters. In retrospect it seems odd that we didn't realize the potential for this years ago. The Bach Cantatas number among the great icons of sacred art. As long as there are people who can attend Cantata performances, an audience for them will appear.
From the beginning we have striven to present the Cantatas in a way that both provides respectful context for their essential, historical Christian nature, while also allowing their inherent broad appeal to unfold for a diverse assembly. These works memorably address universal themes, while presenting a rich variety of expressive detail. We contend that an evening "Cantata Vespers" will usually form a most effective context for them.
The ongoing involvement of our supporters remains vital for our existence. Inevitably, each of our performances will present a significant financial challenge. Fundraising campaigns appear on our website, and our donors are kept well informed through our newsletter and social media posts. We welcome you to follow us, and to consider supporting our work. Our story has just begun!
Gary & Jane Widiger
Anita Lofgren-Chung & Paul Chung
John W. Ehrlich
Sue Stevens & John Donald
Gordon S Bernstein
Ellen Carlson & Andy Dunmire
Susan & Drew Palmer
Michael Shea Carlson
Meredith A. Allen
Holly E. Mockovak
Shari Lynn Bence