"Inventions"

This page is provided so that members of the GBC and others can make suggestions, and profit from the suggestions of others. Please tell us about innovative ways you have found, whether tried or untried, for expressing and utilizing the music of J.S. Bach. Be as specific and informative as you can in a short space. Email your comments to:

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A New Image of Bach

a new image of bach

In a recent CD offering, the Calefax Reed Quintet, an ensemble from the Netherlands specializing in reed renditions of Bach's music, featured a fairly nonstandard image of Bach that we felt was worth posting. The painting, by Pascal Mohlmann, is entitled Contrapunctus XIV (1998, oil and gold leaf on linen, 160 x 160 cm). Depicting a man engrossed in the act of creation, it certainly departs from the proper, wigged image with which we are all acquainted!

Architettonica Catalografica

"Architettonica Catalografica" is a new web site entirely dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach. The project plans to catalog various sources held in Italian libraries, directly or indirectly related to the great composer of Eisenach. In December 2000 the first volume of the bibliography was published and the first 450 items were made available: monographs, contents of the volumes, essays, commentary articles, librettos/booklets on CD, children's literature - all accompanied by indexes for access based on various systems of classification.

24 Hours Bach

24 Hours Bach is a 24-hour TV and multimedia event that was broadcast throughout the world on 28 July 2000, the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach's death.

Combining international Bach highlights from Leipzig to Tokyo, the production includes highlights of live broadcasts from Tokyo and Leipzig supplemented by pre-produced concerts, features, documentaries, Bach news, and many other items. The central events are the two live concerts: "Swinging Bach" with Bobby McFerrin and the performance of the Mass in B Minor with the St. Thomas Choir in Leipzig's St. Thomas Church.

"24 hours Bach" is a project of extraordinary international cooperation initiated by EuroArts. With support from Mitteldeutsche Medienfoderung (MDM), IBM, DaimlerChrysler and Online Classics.

"24 hours Bach" has been seen in its entirety in France on "Mezzo", in Denmark on DR and in Switzerland on SSR/TSI. The Japanese radio station NHK has broadcast "24 hours Bach" nine hours live. German-language TV stations such as ZDF, 3sat and arte broadcast segments of "24 hours Bach". In addition, "24 hours Bach" has been shown on an open-air video screen in Leipzig.

Bach Cantatas Website

The Bach Cantatas website features a comprehensive compendium of all aspects of J.S. Bach's cantatas and his other vocal works. Contains discussions and detailed discographies of each cantata and other vocal works, performers and general topics. The site also includes texts and translations, scores, articles and interviews, and short biographies of more than 1200 performers of Bach vocal works (singers, conductors, vocal and instrumental groups). Also featured are other relevant resources such as a discussion of the Lutheran church year, reviews and discussions of Bach's non-vocal works, terms and abbreviations, hundreds of links to other relevant resources. The site is a collective project, being compiled from various postings about the subject, most of which have been sent to the Bach Cantatas Mailing List.

Local Artist Coordination & Collaborations

In November 1998, The Bach Festival of Philadelphia hosted choristers from four Philadelphia high schools, two public and two independent (private). They were prepared by their respective choral conductors, and then came together for a Bach Master Class led by Greg Funfgeld, artistic director and conductor of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem (PA), the oldest Bach choir in America. From the moment these 110 young people delivered their first note, this was an absolutely spectacular sound.

Greg was so impressed with their performance and knowledge that he immediately suggested not only a repeat event, but a much more ambitious one, which took place on November 11-12, 2000 at the High School Bach Weekend at two high schools in the Philadelphia area. In addition to choral sessions, it included individual Master Class work led by four soloists (below), and a rehearsal and full-fledged performance the next afternoon with members of a fifth Philadelphia high school, plus professional musicians from Greg's Bach Festival orchestra. This was a blockbuster high school Bach showcase.

The master classes were taught by:

Rosa Lamoreaux
(soprano)
Marietta Simpson
(mezzo-soprano)
Daniel Lichti
(bass)
Frederick Urrey
(tenor)

For more information on any of these artists, please click on their picture or name.

In addition to their entertainment value, events such as this help to strengthen the network between Bach performers, conductors, and audiences and foster a richer and more lively musical community. Musical organizations sponsoring local performances have an ongoing need for local talent. Facilitating the placement of performers with events will continue to be a goal of this site.

Bach-Gospel Jubilee

The Bach Festival of Philadelphia did a wonderful "Bach-Gospel Jubilee" in 1999, on a Sunday afternoon, in a church setting. Participating were a) the Main Line Ministerial Gospel Choir, led by Harold Thompson, a member of our Board; b) the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Senior Choir, an outstanding church choir under the direction of Jeff Brillhart; and c) Marietta Simpson, renowned mezzo-soprano. A Philadelphia resident known worldwide for her Bach renditions, she is also a world-class singer of spirituals, and her whole family sings gospel as well. Marietta is also a member of The Bach Festival of Philadelphia's Advisory Board, performs regularly in the Philadelphia area and elsewhere. (For more information on Bach and Gospel music, please see our Articles page.)

Zimmermann's Coffee House

In May 1999, The Bach Festival of Philadelphia re-created Zimmermann's Coffee House, in a great old room at the Curtis Institute of Music. We served up wonderful music, including the Coffee Cantata (naturally), along with beer, wine and coffee, with people seated at round tables containing snacks. The event was sold out, and as people filed out at the end, they actually thanked us! This is well worth doing, but it is a lot of work, particularly the first time it's tried, and you need the right person to head it up - someone who can enroll good musicians in participating, basically for the fun of it, and who is also capable of coordinating, if not conducting, the ensembles. We had participants aged 20 to 87, including advanced Curtis students and seasoned professionals.

The Young Bach Retreat

young bach retreat

The Young Bach Retreat at Nelly Berman School of Music in Haverford, PA focuses on the various influences on young Bach as he developed his art, as well as some key stylistic milestones in his career. For more information on this "exploration of Bach's creative beginnings and our experience of his music," click here.

A CD venture by Paul Jordan

Paul Jordan, a colleague, writes: The production...has been essentially complete now for about eight weeks. What we have in hand are the two well-"burned" (private) CD's:

(1) Buxtehude: Praeludium in D Minor;
Bach: Contrapunctus I - XI; and
Bach: Contrapunctus XII - XVIII;
JSB: Prelude and Fugue in G Minor (a delightful & virtuoso early work)

So you see, we have the whole dense mass of the Art of the Fugue programmatically embedded, if you will, between a lighter "appetizer" and "dessert"... and

(2) a short (ca. 14-minute) "Sampler" CD by which record companies may theoretically be enabled to render their preliminary judgment (of whether or not there be "further interest").

In addition, we have a tentative jacket design - using a splendid Paul Klee painting ("Fugue in Red") - and substantial liner notes, by a German musicologist and myself, which are already finished in both English and German...
(This CD was successfully produced.)