Bach rocks in Baltimore and Washington. Orchestras and choruses in the two cities are rolling out their 2016-17 seasons, aiming to strike a chord with a new generation of listeners for the German master composer’s baroque music.
The 29th season of the Bach In Baltimore First Sunday Concert Series runs from Oct. 2 to May 7 at various Baltimore-area churches, including Christ Lutheran Church. Concerts usually begin at 4:00pm and are free or low cost to make them accessible to a wider public.
Cantatas and instrumental works by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and their contemporaries will be performed by the 12-member Bach In Baltimore Orchestra and the Bach Concert Choir. Each concert will feature solos by singers and musicians.
Music director T. Herbert Dimmock has a special treat for concertgoers wishing to better appreciate the music. He begins each concert with a 10-minute live demonstration and explanation of Bach’s musical language. This is designed to enhance the listeners’ comprehension during the actual performances.
Dimmock, who thinks Bach is the best composer ever, says his music continues to resonate with people not only for its “gorgeous” sounds and memorable melodies, but because of its deeper dimensions.
“The music of Bach is almost unique, as it can, and does, appeal to people on more layers than anyone else I know,” he says.
Using terms such as “melodic inventiveness” and “architectural marvel” to describe Bach’s compositions, Dimmock says one example of his genius is how he used the same instrument to communicate different concepts in a way that is “just perfect.”
“Nobody’s better at sensitivity to sound,” he says of Bach.
Concert dates in 2016 include Oct. 2, Nov. 6, and Dec. 4. In 2017, concerts are scheduled Jan. 1, Feb. 5, Feb. 10, March 5, April 2, and May 7. The highlight of the season will be the performance of one of Bach’s most popular major works, Mass in B minor on March 5 at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church. Dimmock says the work combines text with music, uses every instrument, and showcases the best aspects of Bach’s musical style and form.
Bach in Washington, too
The nation’s capital also has a concert series devoted mostly to Bach and his baroque contemporaries. The Washington Bach Consort offers a three-pronged approach of vocal and instrumental pieces.
One series, featuring German and Italian composers of the early baroque era, takes place at National Presbyterian Church. Concerts are Dec. 4, March 12, and April 30.
A chamber series of sonatas is performed live at 10th and G streets on Nov. 4, Feb. 24, and April 17.
A free noontime cantata series, featuring the full chorus and orchestra and soloists, is offered at Church of the Epiphany on Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6, March 7, April 4, and May 2.
What: Bach In Baltimore
When: First Sundays, Oct. 2 to May 7
Where: Various churches, Baltimore, Md.
Info: 410-941-9262, bachinbaltimore.org
What: Washington Bach Consort
When: Oct. 4 to May 2
Where: Three locations in Washington, D.C.
Info: 202-429-2121, bachconsort.org