Bach, the Universe and Everything: The Ultimate Gene Edit

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What is Bach, the Universe & Everything? If this is your first Bach, the Universe & Everything (BUE), welcome! We like to think of the series as a community, similar to the one Bach enjoyed in Leipzig where he produced cantatas at an extraordinary rate, providing innovative music for the weekly services at the church where he worked from 1723 until his death in 1750. At that time, the congregation was as open to science and new ideas as it was united by faith. It is in that spirit that we come together for a thought-provoking cantata and a talk from a leading scientist. A note from our Principal Keyboard Steven Devine: Bach’s Cantata, Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin, BWV 144 was written for the Third Sunday before Lent and comes from Bach’s first year in Leipzig. The first performance was on 6 February 1724. There are clear examples of Bach’s experiments with form: the opening choral movement is marked Concerto and calls to mind a motet with the instruments simply doubling the voices. The two arias, however, offer a glimpse of the later cantatas and, in addition to a single recitative, there are two chorales. The second of these (the final movement) is based on the Lutheran hymn Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit and this is the chorale melody I have chosen for the opening Chorale Prelude. In my continuing desire to liberate the genius of Johann Pachelbel from his status as a one-hit wonder, I have once again delved into his extensive collection of chorale preludes for this composition. The wonderful Sonata à 4 is attributed to Johann Michael Bach – the first cousin, once removed of Johann Sebastian Bach and, rather confusingly his father-in-law as he was father to Bach’s first wife, Maria Barbara. This composition was originally described as for one violin, three violas and continuo but the ranges imply that the “violas” were in fact of three very different sizes (with the third viola part in the lower end of the bass clef), so the music fits the violin band of the Bach cantata with no adaptation needed.



Dr Matthew Child Imperial College London

Orchestra Steven Devine director Margaret Faultless violin Iona Davies violin Hannah Gardiner viola Jonathan Manson cello Kate Brooke bass Sarah Humphrys oboe Bethan White oboe Steven Devine organ Chorus Amy Carson soprano Sofia Ticciati*+ soprano Alto David Clegg alto Alto Hugh Cutting* alto Matthew Beale tenor Guy Cutting*+ tenor William Gaunt bass Philip Tebb bass


Crispin Woodhead


Johann Pachelbel Was mein Gott will, das geschah’ allzeit, P.488


William Byrd Emendemus in melius


Jennifer Doudna Nobel lecture extract


Johann Sebastian Bach Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin, BWV 144


Dr Matthew Child The Ultimate Gene Edit


Crispin Woodhead


Johann Michael Bach Capriccio from Sonata à4

* Soloists + Singers of the Rising Stars of the Enlightenment Scheme 2019 - 2022. Front cover illustration credit: vectorjuice

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Polyphony Emendemus in melius by William Byrd (1543-1623) Emendemus in melius, quae ignoranter peccavimus: ne subito preoccupati die mortis, quaeramus spatium paenitentiae et invenire non possimus. Attende, Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Let us make ammends for the sins we have committed in ignorance: lest we should suddenly, at the day of death, seek a place of repentance and not be able to find one. Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, for we have sinned against you.

Adiuva nos, Deus salutaris noster et propter honorem nomini tui, libera nos.

Help us, O God, our salvation, and for the honour of your name, free us.

Reading Extract from Nobel Prize lecture, 2020 by Jennifer A. Doudna Genome editing extends across all of biology – it can be used for fundamental research but also for exciting applications in public health, in agriculture and in biomedicine. It’s important to point out that genome editing can be conducted in many different kinds of cells and fundamentally in the two kinds of cells that I’m pointing out here. One category of cell is a somatic cell – that’s a cell that is fully differentiated, it does not have the ability to create a new organism vs a germ cell which is a cell such as a sperm or an egg cell or cells in an early embryo that have pluripotency and they’re able to differentiate into many different cell types as an organism is forming. If genome edits are introduced in a somatic cell those changes to DNA are not heritable so they only effect one cell or one tissue type or one individual organism. But if genome edits are introduced into a germ cell they have the potential to be heritable and introduce changes that become part of not only an individual but all of that individual’s progeny. And this is of course very powerful when we think about using it in plants or using it to create better animal models of human disease, for example, as has been done using crispr cas9 in mice and rats. It’s very different when we think about how it could be impactful in human biology and the of course enormous ethical and societal issues that are raised by the possibility of using germline editing in humans. Read by Sarah Humphrys, oboe


BWV 144 Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin (Take what is yours and go away). J.S. Bach 1685-1750 1. Chor Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin.

1. Chorus Take what is yours and go away.

2. Arie Murre nicht, Lieber Christ, Wenn was nicht nach Wunsch geschicht; Sondern sei mit dem zufrieden, Was dir dein Gott hat beschieden, Er weiß, was dir nützlich ist.

2. Aria Do not grumble, dear Christian, when something you didn’t wish for happens; rather be at peace with it, with what your God has determined for you; He knows what is good for you.

3. Choral Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Es bleibt gerecht sein Wille; Wie er fängt meine Sachen an, Will ich ihm halten stille. Er ist mein Gott, Der in der Not Mich wohl weiß zu erhalten; Drum laß ich ihn nur walten.

3. Chorale What God does is well done, His will remains righteous; However he begins my affairs, I will silently keep to Him. He is my God, who in need knows well how to sustain me; therefore I let Him alone rule.

4. Rezitativ Wo die Genügsamkeit regiert Und überall das Ruder führt, Da ist der Mensch vergnügt Mit dem, wie es Gott fügt. Dagegen, wo die Ungenügsamkeit das Urtel spricht, Da stellt sich Gram und Kummer ein, Das Herz will nicht Zufrieden sein, Und man gedenket nicht daran: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan.

4. Recitative Where contentment rules and holds the tiller everywhere, there a person is satisfied with that which God brings about. On the other hand, where discontent speaks its mind, there grief and trouble appear, one’s heart will not content itself, and this is not kept in mind: what God does is well done.

5. Arie Genügsamkeit Ist ein Schatz in diesem Leben, Welcher kann Vergnügung geben In der größten Traurigkeit, Genügsamkeit. Denn es lässet sich in allen Gottes Fügung wohl gefallen Genügsamkeit.

5. Arie Contentment is a treasure in this life, which can provide pleasure in the greatest sorrow, contentment. For it allows itself to be pleased in all of God’s doings, contentment.

6. Choral Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit, Sein Will, der ist der beste, Zu helfen den’n er ist bereit, Die an ihn glauben feste. Er hilft aus Not, der fromme Gott, Und züchtiget mit Maßen. Wer Gott vertraut, fest auf ihn baut, Den will er nicht verlassen.

6. Chorale What my God wills always occurs, His will is the best, He is ready to help those who believe firmly in Him. He gives aid in need, this righteous God, and punishes with measure. Who trusts in God, relies upon Him firmly, God will never abandon.









Biographies Sofia Ticciati Sofia is a graduate of the Royal College of Music International Opera School. She previously trained at the Royal Academy of Music, the English National Opera programme and King’s College London, where she graduated with a first-class honours degree in Music. She recently made her Glyndebourne debut as Donna in Handel’s Rinaldo and Premier Esprit in Massenet’s Cendrillon. Operatic roles include Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel and Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring for Royal College of Music International Opera School, Ginevra in Ariodante and Calisto in Handel’s Giove in Argo for London Handel Festival and the title role in Holst’s Savitri for British Youth Opera.​Covered roles include Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress for Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Antonia and Giulietta for English Touring Opera’s production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann. Hugh Cutting Hugh Cutting is currently a member of the RCM International Opera Studio. In the autumn of 2021 Hugh won the Kathleen Ferrier Award, the first countertenor to do so. Recent and upcoming engagements include the English Concert and Kristian Bezuidenhout (Purcell Odes for a Queen), BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe (Bach B Minor Mass), Polyphony and Stephen Layton (Bach St John Passion), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Graham Ross (Bach St Matthew Passion), la Nuova Muisca and David Bates (Monteverdi Vespers and Motets). On the operatic stage, his roles include Arsace/’Partenope’ for Le Jardin des Voix Academy with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie, Bertarido/’Rodelinda’ and Refugee/‘Flight’ for the RCM International Opera Studio. Hugh makes his debut with Opernhaus Zürich in 2023. He has recorded Purcell Royal Odes with The King’s Consort and Robert King, and Lamento with Iestyn Davies and Fretwork for Signum Classics. Guy Cutting Guy Cutting was a chorister and later a choral scholar at New College, Oxford where he gained a first-class degree in Music. In 2013 he became the inaugural recipient of the American Bach Soloists’ Jeffrey Thomas Award. His engagements have included appearances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Purcell and Bach Cantatas with John Butt, Schütz with Robert Howarth, Purcell with Laurence Cummings and Bach with Steven Devine); The Academy of Ancient Music (Tenor Arias St Matthew Passion); Monteverdi Choir (Handel); Collegium Vocale Gent (Bach, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Victoria); The Gabrieli Consort (A Venetian Coronation, St John Passion). Guy is a member of Damask Vocal Quartet performing the 19th and 20th century chamber repertoire as well as commissioning new works for vocal quartet. He has recorded Scarlatti and Handel on the Avie label, Charpentier, Couperin, Blow and Mozart for Novum and Gabriel Passion for Delphian.

Biographies Steven Devine

Steven Devine enjoys a busy career as a music director and keyboard player working with some of the finest musicians. He made his London conducting debut in 2002 at the Royal Albert Hall and is now a regular performer there - including making his Proms directing debut in August 2007, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Since 2007 Steven has been the harpsichordist with London Baroque in addition to his position as Principal Keyboard Player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has recorded over forty discs with other artists and ensembles and made many solo recordings including Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Goldberg Variations. Steven is Early Keyboard Consultant at both the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and a regular teacher and examiner at many other institutions. Dr Matthew Child Matthew studied for a PhD in molecular parasitology with Prof. Mike Blackman at the National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK. Afterhis PhD, he moved to the USA to continue his academic career as a post-doc in the chemical biology-focused laboratory of Prof. Matt Bogyo at Stanford University, California. Following his return to the UK, Matthew was awarded a Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, allowing him to initiate his independent research career and lab at Imperial College London. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Three decades ago, a group of inquisitive London musicians took a long hard look at that curious institution we call the Orchestra, and decided to start again from scratch. They began by throwing out the rulebook. Put a single conductor in charge? No way. Specialise in repertoire of a particular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was born. Please visit for more information, videos, podcasts and blogs.

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