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Celebrating Lutheran Master’s 339th Birthday – Lyric Say

Boston’s annual celebration of all issues Bach returns to First Lutheran Church of Boston on Saturday, March 23rd. Based 17 years in the past and occurring yearly since (excepting solely the unlucky cancellation of the occasion on the final minute through the preliminary COVID-19 quarantine), the annual Boston Bach Birthday attracts lots of every year in celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contributions to music. Held on the Saturday nearest Bach’s March 21st birthday, it’s an all-day competition of concert events that includes the music of Bach, those that influenced him, and people who had been influenced by him. All musical occasions are free and open to the general public.

Begun in 2008 as a celebration of “Boston’s Bach Organ,” the Richards, Fowkes & Co. opus 10 pipe organ historically options prominently on the Bach Birthday, and 2024 isn’t any exception. Three organists will play recitals, starting with FLC Kantor Jonathan Wessler at 9:00am. Persevering with his collection of “sets” of organ works by Bach (the Nice Eighteen organ chorales in 2021, the Orgel-Büchlein in 2022, and the Six Trio Sonatas in 2023), this 12 months FLC Kantor Jonathan Wessler begins off the day with the whole chorale partitas of Bach. The 4 genuine Bach partitas will probably be preceded by three earlier partitas attributed to Bach. Wessler returns to the bench for the prelude to Vespers begins at 4:15pm, providing chorale preludes by Bach, Sweelinck, and Reincken on Lutheran chorales for Lent. At 11:25 Fred MacArthur will play smaller-scale Bach organ favorites. Fred is one among Boston’s most revered organists, having studied with the legendary Boston organist and pedagogue George Faxon. And eventually, organist Jerrick Cavagnaro is a brand new face to the Boston organ scene, albeit one with a deep résumé: not solely is he the brand new affiliate director of music at Trinity Church, however he was additionally a competitor in the newest Boston Bach International Organ Competition, and has simply been introduced as a semifinalist within the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. His 1:30 program options music within the keys of E, F, and G.

Although the BBB started as an organ-centric competition, it shortly branched out into different musical media, and Wessler (who serves as creative director of the BBB) makes an attempt to program as large quite a lot of instrumentalists as doable. In 2024 violist Maren Rothfritz returns, having final carried out on the Bach Birthday in 2022, when her efficiency of three Bach cello suites was obtained with nice acclaim. This 12 months her progressive 2:55 program includes a single Bach cello suite—no. 6 in D Main—interspersed with actions from Hindemith’s Sonata for Viola, Op. 33, No. 4: an sudden however pleasant pairing that illuminates each items. Two items of recent music spherical out this system: ko’u inoa (my identify is) by the Hawaiian composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, and Grimalkin (2023) by Will Stackpole, the latter written particularly for Rothfritz and impressed by the Bach/Hindemith pairing.

Till not too long ago, Bach on piano has not usually been a BBB function, as Boston audiences usually choose historically-informed performances on harpsichord or clavichord. Nonetheless, the Bach Birthday has featured piano performances within the final three years: in 2021 professor Noam Elkies performed a transcription of the primary Brandenburg concerto; in 2022 April Solar and Andrus Madsen carried out Rheinberger’s transcription of the Goldberg Variations on two genuine 19th-century grand pianos; and final 12 months Artem Belogurov carried out Bach on a reconstruction of a Baroque piano. Such historically-informed efficiency of Bach on piano is turning into extra in vogue, and the Bach Birthday is happy to be part of the motion in direction of a broader understanding of historic efficiency. This 12 months, pianist Calvin Kotrba will proceed the carry out Bach’s French Suite No. 6 in E Main at 2:30pm upon First Lutheran’s Steinway mannequin M.

No celebration of Bach’s music could be full with out a minimum of one cantata, and this 12 months’s BBB options two. At 3:45, baritone Richard Giarusso performs an previous good friend, Bach’s solo cantata BWV 82 Ich habe genug, accompanied by a small ensemble. Giarusso isn’t any stranger to the Boston musical scene, having studied at Harvard and now serving as Dean of Tutorial Affairs on the New England Conservatory. The second cantata will probably be heard on the 5pm Vespers service: Bach’s tour-de-force for Palm Sunday, BWV 182 Himmelskönig sei willkommen. Vespers will even function a pleasant competition Magnificat scored for a similar ensemble because the cantata. Having been discovered within the Düben assortment alongside works by the north German grasp Dieterich Buxtehude, the Magnificat was as soon as assumed to be his; nevertheless this attribution has since been overturned on stylistic grounds, and the work has joined the ranks of compositions by that the majority prolific of all composers, Nameless.

The Younger Folks’s Live performance is a latest addition to the day’s program, and a well-received one. This 12 months’s 10:35am live performance options youth from First Lutheran Church in addition to a number of musicians from the Boston String Academy. The repertoire contains the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria carried out on violin and harpsichord, Bach’s G main cello suite (with a unique cellist taking part in every motion), and the well-known Chaconne in d, organized for string ensemble. The truth that this live performance is so well-received every year is a testomony to the enduring nature of Bach’s music, and it’s all the time encouraging to see younger folks participating with such good music.

The day concludes because it started, with organ music. The Vespers postlude will probably be Bach’s Toccata and fugue in d, BWV 565. This well-known piece is never carried out in church owing to its connotations with the phantasmagoric. Common sentiments however, the composition stands nicely by itself deserves as a late instance of the stylus phantasticus, and deserves a wider listening to in a musically severe and traditionally knowledgeable context.

Any overview of the Bach Birthday could be remiss to omit the well-known German Lunch, served at midday (tickets $15 on the door). The menu shifts yearly, however regularly contains pretzels, sausage, sauerkraut, sauerbraten, potato salad, spätzel, and different scrumptious German fare. It isn’t to be missed!

As all the time, concertgoers are free to come back and go all through the day as they’re in a position. Whereas some attend however one or two occasions, and others keep for the entire day, all depart the Boston Bach Birthday having been musically and spiritually edified. Extra info, together with the whole checklist of repertoire for the day, is obtainable at

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