Back to Bach!

Back to Bach


As this most recent deluge of severe storms, ancient trees falling down, failed bridges and flooding reservoirs we’ve experienced here on the Central Coast passes and makes way for sunnier days in our neck of the woods, the sense of renewal this Spring inspires in me seems especially significant this year and is perhaps even symbolic in nature.


At the moment, I’m returning to my beloved and well-used Bach B-Minor score in anticipation of the upcoming performance of the piece I’ll be singing with the Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale, conducted by Anna Hamre, at the end of April.

(see calendar page on this website)


My former voice teacher from my Cal Arts years, life mentor, and highly esteemed colleague, Maurita Phillips-Thornburgh, aka: “Bunny”, once described Bach’s music as something you can only sing with excellent technique, otherwise it all just falls apart. Bunny also taught me the magical approach of singing long, melismatic passages while thinking of the off-beat, almost like jazz. The net result of this particular rhythmic emphasis yields long runs that hum along, seldom rush and never sound mechanical.


In many respects, as I reflect on our recent move across the country, I realize that singing Bach again also feels like coming home, literally, spiritually and figuratively.


In the process of revisiting this extraordinary masterpiece, I am additionally reminded of how performing and studying Bach’s music inspires in me a timeless sense of awareness; when musical form seamlessly meets substance-inspired by the text. It doesn't matter how many times I hear or perform this particular musical gem, there is always something new to glean from it.


Lastly, perhaps the most exciting thing about the upcoming Fresno performance of Bach’s B-Minor is that I’ll be performing with my daughter, Sarah, who will be taking a break from her performances with the New York Metropolitan Opera to perform this particular concert.

I’ll be singing the Sop I solos to her Sop II/Alto. How fun and rare is that?


Until my next post...CML