All Aboard the Bach Train

New Yorkers, have you noticed Bach accompanying you today in transit? It’s not just strains from our The Bach Variations festival getting stuck in your head. To celebrate the composer’s 328th birthday today, accordionists, violinists, a keyboardist, and cellists galore are serenading straphangers with Bach in subway stations throughout the city. Check out this handy map and schedule detailing the third annual Bach in the Subways Day.

Photo of Dale Henderson, Bach in the Subways Day founder, courtesy of WQXR.


If it Ain’t Baroque

‘I have to confide that, when the Philharmonic asked me if I’d like to do this Bach marathon, my first reaction was, 'Would I really buy a ticket to hear myself play these pieces in one sitting?’“ Philharmonic Principal Cello Carter Brey said of his upcoming marathon performances of the complete Bach Cello Suites. "As I thought about it more, I decided that I could justify it if I brought something to it that would challenge me.”

That challenge, he decided, would be to play the Suites on cellos with a Baroque setup: one cello for the first five suites, and a five-string cello, as originally intended, for the Sixth Suite.

Check out these videos of Carter on Bach’s beloved Cello Suites. Due to popular demand, a second date for Carter’s Bach marathon has been added.

Photos: Luthier James McKean makes the five-string cello with a Baroque setup for Carter Brey.

Ah! Bach!

Today is the 327th birthday of the Baroque master of whom Music Director Alan Gilbert said, “Bach is the composer who, more often than not, ends up at the top of anybody’s list of greatest or favorite composers.” That certainly is true of the majority of the musicians in the Philharmonic — including Principal Second Violin Group Marc Ginsberg, and violist Peter Kenote — who cited Johann Sebastian more often than anyone else when asked what composer was the most inspiring.

Next season you can find out why, as Alan Gilbert puts it, “Bach’s music can withstand interpretation and can be treated in different ways.” Explore the master through The Bach Variations: A Philharmonic Festival, March 13–April 6, 2012.

Leipzig, Bach and Break-dancers

Week 1 of the internship, done. It’s been a pretty chill week; definitely a lot slower paced than my time in Berlin, which in some ways feels a little odd, but at the same time, it’s nice to just lounge around in the evenings. 

In the lab, I’ve mostly been doing literature reviews. The project I’m working on is a new one for the lab, so the grad student and I have been scouring PubMed/Google Scholar for past studies which are similar to the one we want to do, so we have a better idea of how to design our experiments. The lab I’m in is really small; there’s the prof, a post-doc, the grad student, and me. It’s definitely a different feel than my lab at school, where there’s 15+ grad students, post docs, and undergrads running around. The smaller environment is nice though, and I’m definitely getting spoiled (my prof lent me a bunch of pots, plates, utensils, etc for the summer, and my grad student is lending me a bike to use to get around the city!)

Outside of lab, I’m slowly getting oriented to Leipzig. Thursday night I met up with 7 other RISE interns for a potluck dinner, and that was a lot of fun. We met up at one of the intern’s flat, and just sat around her kitchen table, eating food, and chatting about random things. Most of them have been here for 3+ weeks already, but there’s 2 other people who just arrived this week with me (and there’s still 2 people who haven’t come yet) 

Yesterday I went to St. Thomas Church in the old town to listen to a “musical worship.” St. Thomas Church was the church that Bach used to work for, and as part of the Bach Festival this week, the church has daily “musical worship” services that feature some of Bach’s pieces. I really enjoyed the organ music was really good, and the choir sounded pretty too (although I had no idea what they were saying…) The church itself is really nice, with huge stained glass windows, and 2 pipe organs.

Highlight of the week so far is definitely the Flying Steps show I went to last night. Flying Steps is a breakdance crew, which apparently has won the World title 4 years in a row. They performed at Peter’s Church last night, dancing to pieces from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (bizarre combination, right?) It was really cool! They actually had a pianist and a harpsichordist playing most of the pieces, although some of the pieces were definitely remixed. It was interesting to see their interpretations of the music.