If you ever listen to classical music, you’ve probably heard a cantata — a piece of religious music made for voices and instruments.
Johann Sebastian Bach was a famous composer of cantatas. He wrote hundreds, and you’ve probably heard them played at weddings, in a church, at a party thrown by a king (or in car commercials). The word comes from the Italian cantare, which means “sing,” and the singers are the focus of a cantata — whether it’s one person or a whole choir. Cantatas are often based on religious writing, but can be inspired by poetry and literature as well.