Bach Cantata


Completed: January, 2014
Dimensions: 21″ x 24″
Edition Size: 100 Prints
Paper: Somerset Enhanced 330 GSM Archival 100% Cotton-Rag Paper
Media: Giclee Fine Art Print


In my life, the sound of choirs has touched my heart, many times. The exuberance and sound of human voices, singing together, whether accompanied by other musicians or simply a cappella, have inspired me. This image of a choir and musical ensemble is not one event, but a composite of intense and beautiful memories.

My vision for BACH CANTATA comes from hearing choral music in Paris, London, Germany, and in many places in the United States and in Mexico. Choral music inspired me to capture the beauty of performance. I needed to share this vision, hoping that somehow I could convey these moments of song as image. But, how does one express this experience visually? How does one translate the experience of receiving the wondrous gift of song? That is what I tried to accomplish with BACH CANTATA.

A friend described my BACH CANTATA as, “it is like an iconic portal bringing the viewer into the world of music and, through that same opening, bringing music into the viewer’s world.” This is a reflection on the spiritual icons, where the transformative experience happens to the viewer. It is a metaphor– entering into the vision, as well as bringing the spiritual vision into one’s own life.

BACH CANTATA- Image History
John August Swanson made hand-painted and digital changes to the original 1985 acrylic painting to heighten color and add detail for the 2014 giclee edition.





1985 Acrylic Painting
Initial Color Changes


1985, Acrylic Painting



Color Adaption
Color Change
November 4, 2013, Giclee Proof






Initial Aspect Ratio Change
Final Giclee


Aspect Ratio Change
November 8, 2013, Giclee Proof



2014, Giclee


BACH CANTATA- Reflections
See below for a collection of observations, thoughts, and ideas on, or relating to, BACH CANTATA.


Dr. Don E. Saliers,
William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship, Emeritus,
Emory University


“As in Bach Cantatas, so in this painting: voices and instruments conjoined in praise of God. They are both deeply attentive and animated by the music they offer. The entire room is filled with exquisite sound; we ‘hear’ with our eyes the rhythms and the counter-point, the melodic lines and the harmonic richness. The very seat backs and shoulders of the listeners are like short phrases, perhaps over characteristic Bach triplets (this movement is in 6/8 time). The plucked strings of the guitars and harpsichord embrace the bowed strings of cellos and viols, large and small. Eight voices, echoing the ‘Eighth Day,’ consort with the lively brass and the unexpected clarinet. The joyful sound is in the musician’s variegated clothing, in the larger folds of the magnificent curtains, and in the utterly rapt audience. Together they form a place of audible abundance of grace. For and with Bach we sing ‘Soli Deo Gloria!’ ”


Teri Larson,
Choral Director and Director of music
at The Basilica of St. Mary
in Minneapolis Minnesota



“Music is a universal language that unites and inspires and breaks down barriers that arise between cultures and races.”


John O’Donohue
from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace


“A beautiful voice raises our hearts and stirs something ancient in us, perhaps reminding us of our capacity for the eternal. Such a voice can claim you immediately even before you have time to think about it. I have often been at a music session where someone might be asked to sing and as soon as the beautiful voice rises up all noise and distraction cease and everyone becomes enraptured as the beauty of the voice brings out the music of the heart.”


Edria Voursalle,
Lotte Lehmann Award winning


“The beautiful, sacred texts of Bach’s cantatas are infused with poetry. The spiritual texts of the Cantata serve to inspire the musicians and audience alike to heightened spiritual awareness and meaning. These inspirational texts are upheld and supported by the powerful structural form and arched melodies of Bach’s compositions.”


ESt. Augustine of Hippo


“Qui bene cantat bis orat…     He who sings, prays twice.”

“cantare amantis est…     Singing belongs to one who loves”


St. Francis of Assisi


For what else are the servants of God than His singers,
whose duty it is to lift up the hearts of people
and move them to spiritual joy?

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 36 × 7 × 7 in