by Mike Telin

BachBashEach year coinciding with the first full day of spring, the music world gathers to celebrate the birthday of the great Johann Sebastian Bach.

2014 marks the master’s 329th birthday and on Friday, March 21 beginning at 7:00 pm at Pilgrim Church, Arts Renaissance Tremont in partnership with Music & Art at Trinity will honor the occasion with a Birthday Bash.

Trinity Chamber Choir and strings will be led by organist and conductor Elizabeth Lenti. Soloists include Tamer Edlebi, oboe, and Jinjoo Cho, violin, and vocalists Judith Overcash, Erin Smith & Malina Rauschenfels.

The program features arias and choruses from Bach’s Cantatas BWV 78, 211, 208 and 147, the organ Prelude & Fugue in a, BWV 543 & the Double Concerto in c for oboe and violin, BWV 1060R. On Wednesday, March 19 beginning at 12:10, the program will also be presented on Trinity Cathedral’s Brownbag Concert Series.

A quick Google search will reveal that Friday’s performance is only one of many Bach Birthday celebrations: period instrument ensembles, churches, American Guild of Organists chapters, Public Radio Stations and conservatories — including the Berklee School of Music — are all joining the party.

So why does Bach get a party every year when most composers’ birthdays are celebrated once every hundred? Daniel Hathaway, who prior to founding this publication spent 31 years as Music Director at Trinity Cathedral — during which time he programmed many Bach Birthday Concerts — believes it’s because “Bach is at once immortal and indestructible. You can play his music on any instrument in any style and it’s still recognizable as Bach.”

Bach’s music is part of the daily warm-up routine of many musicians, not only classical. In an interview prior to her performance with Han Bennink at Transformer Station, violinist Mary Oliver said that although she may be living in the twenty-first century improvising world, the music of J.S. Bach is still very much a part of her musical life. “I don’t perform it, but part of my regimen is to practice a Bach sonata or partita every day.”

On a personal note, I remember walking into Trinity Cathedral on a Wednesday morning to the sounds of a movement from a Bach cello suite being played on a double bass. It was the great Jazz bassist Rufus Reid, who was performing that afternoon on the Brownbag series, and like Oliver, playing Bach was part of his daily warm-up as well.

Like the yearly arrival of spring, Bach’s birthday is an annual event worthy of celebration.

Published on March 18, 2014

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