Bach Cantata Institute

John Harbison | Director
with Sanford Sylvan | Baritone

John Harbison working with a Professional Program singer in 2009

John Harbison working with a Professional Program singer in 2009


The music of J.S. Bach is considered by many to contain some of the deepest and most profound emotional expression in all the literature of music. The Cantatas represent perhaps the single greatest collection of religious music ever composed and demonstrate a range of style and invention which has never been matched or even approached. Yet, with relatively few exceptions, the cantatas and many other works by Bach remain largely unknown to most of the classical music public as well as serious classical music students. To counter this trend, the Bach Cantata Institute seeks to engage a new generation of students. 


The Bach Cantata Institute at SongFest was begun in 2003 by the late Craig Smith and John Harbison and continues to be an important integral part of SongFest.

Participation in this program will be by both Professional and Young Artist singers and pianists and will be limited to those who have a sincere desire to explore this music.

The Institute will take place during SongFest, centered around private coachings, master classes, and rehearsals, all culminating in a final public performance with strings, conducted by John Harbison.

I believe SongFest to be one of the most important events in our concert music world.
— John Harbison