January 29, 1998 in Features

Bach Party Northwest Bach Festival Celebrates 20th Season With Many Familiar Events

Travis Rivers Correspondent
 

Johann Sebastian Bach must be the most festival-ed composer who has ever lived. From Leipzig to London, from Boston to Bombay and beyond, Bach festivals abound.

Spokane’s Northwest Bach Festival is celebrating its 20th season this year with 19 events, including concerts, master classes and lectures.

Albert Schweitzer may have helped explain why Bach is so celebrated with festivals. Schweitzer wrote in his 1905 biography of Bach, “Everything leads up to Bach; he is the terminus point of everything that has gone before.”

Schweitzer was mistaken, though, about Bach being the end of a line. Bach has influenced every great composer in western classical music, from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven through Chopin and Brahms to Stravinsky and Messiaen. No wonder Bach is celebrated in festivals.

The easy way to make a Bach festival is to find musicians who know some of his music, line them up for a few concerts and be done with it. Spokane’s Northwest Bach Festival has never worked quite that way. Since the beginning of the festival, Bach is heard here alongside music by his relatives, music by composers who influenced him and music by composers Bach influenced.

The festival has shown films of Bach’s life and television interviews with famous Bach performers, presented operas by Bach’s contemporaries, held panel discussions on early music performance and criticism, and performed plenty of Bach.

In the six years alone since composer-conductor Gunther Schuller became the Northwest Bach Festival’s artistic director, my count shows 125 works by 27 composers having been performed at festival concerts. Of Bach’s own works, the range has been from the short songs he wrote as gifts for his wife, Anna Magdalena, to the monumental St. Matthew and St. John Passions and the Christmas Oratorio.

This year’s festival will include performances of works by 15 different composers, including three members of the Bach family - Johann Sebastian and his sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel - along with composers to the east and west of Bach territory.

Eastern Washington University offers college credit for attendance at festival events and presents lectures, master classes and workshops with festival artists. Both Whitworth College and Gonzaga University sponsor master classes with singers in the festival.

This year is the first time a piano recital has been a part of the festival. German-born, Boston-based pianist Veronica Jochum will open the festival’s concerts Friday at The Met with an all-Bach program including the Toccata in G minor, the French Suite No. 5, the English Suite No. 6 and two transcriptions by the Italian composer-pianist Ferruccio Busoni: the Chaccone in D minor from the Violin Partita No. 2 and the organ chorale prelude “Sleepers Awake!” This is Jochum’s first appearance at the Northwest Bach Festival.

In addition to her concert performance Friday, Jochum will present a master class for pianists at EWU’s Cheney campus today at noon in the Music Building Recital Hall.

Jochum, daughter of the distinguished conductor Eugen Jochum, began her piano studies in Munich and later studied in Switzerland with Edwin Fischer and in the United States with Rudolf Serkin. Jochum was awarded the Order of the Cross of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1994. She divides her time between residences in Boston, where she teaches at the New England Conservatory, and Munich.

Jochum performed with the Spokane Symphony at the Festival at Sandpoint in 1994, playing Schuller’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a work she commissioned.

Sunday’s program of organ music at St. John’s Cathedral features another Bostonian, James David Christie, organist of the Boston Symphony and professor of organ at Wellesley College and the Boston Conservatory. Christie, a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the New England Conservatory, was the first American to win first prize at the International Organ Competition at Bruges, Belgium.

Christie’s program includes works by Bach, by his teachers Georg Boehm and Dietrich Buxtehude, by his pupil John Ludwig Krebs and by Johann Pachelbel (of Pachelbel’s Canon fame). The Bach works on the program include the Chorale Partita “O Gott, du frommer Gott,” the Toccata in D major and the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor.

Wednesday’s chamber music program at The Met, “The Bachs Cross the Rhine,” features an aria from Bach’s Cantata No. 126 and a movement from a sonata by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel as well as works by French composers, Francois Couperin, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray. Performers on the program include harpsichordist Ilton Wjuniski, viola da gambist Margriet Tindemans and bass-baritone Robert Honeysucker.

Both Tindemans and Wjuniski are familiar to Bach Festival audiences of past seasons. Honeysucker, making his Pacific Northwest debut at this year’s festival, has performed with numerous orchestras and opera companies, including the Boston Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Opera Ebony. He has also performed in German, New Zealand and the Middle East.

The Bach Festival continues Feb. 6 with a concert of choral and orchestral music at St. John’s Cathedral, and concludes Feb. 8 with a chamber music concert at The Met.

Each of the festival’s five concerts will be preceded by a lecture by Verne Windham, music and arts director for KPBX public radio, beginning one hour before concert time.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color); File illustration

MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story:

1. BACH FEST

The Northwest Bach Festival features 19 events, including concerts, master classes and lectures, through Feb. 8. Most events are free.

2. NORTHWEST BACH FESTIVAL

Today

Bach for Pianists Master Class with Veronica Jochum, Bach Festival pianist, EWU Music Bldg. Recital Hall, noon. (Free)

Friday

Fourth Annual Harpsichord Happening, Holy Names Music Center, 4 p.m. (Free)

Piano recital by Veronica Jochum, The Met, 8 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Saturday

Harpsichord Happening hosted by pianist and teacher Greg Presley, Holy Names Music Center, 10 a. m. (Free)

Morning master class with James David Christie, Bach Festival organist, St. John’s Cathedral, 9:30 a.m. (Free)

Sunday

Organ recital by James David Christie, St. John’s Cathedral, 3 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Monday

Gunther Schuller, Bach Festival artistic director, discusses his book “The Compleat Conductor,” Auntie’s Bookstore, 7:30 p.m. (Free)

Tuesday

“To France and Italy and Bach Again,” lecture by Eastern Washington University historian Ann LeBar, EWU Music Bldg., Room 248, 4:30 p.m. (Free)

Wednesday

“Musical Instruments, Then and Now” with Karen Walthinsen and friends, EWU Music Building, Room 248, Cheney campus, noon. (Free)

Margriet Tindemans, Bach Festival viola da gambist, with the EWU Baroque Orchestra, in concert, EWU Music Building Recital Hall in Cheney, 3 p.m. (Free)

Chamber Music Recital with Margriet Tindeman, viola da gamba, Ilton Wjuniski, harpsichord, and Robert Honeysucker, bass baritone, The Met, 8 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Feb. 5, Thursday

“Celebrating Hildegard von Bingen’s 900th Birthday” with Bach Festival artist Margriet Tindemans, EWU Music Building, Room 248, in Cheney, 4:30 p.m. (Free)

Open rehearsal of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 5, the Festival Orchestra, Gunther Schuller conducting; St. John’s Cathedral, 7 p.m. (Free)

Feb. 6, Friday

Ilton Wjuniski, Bach Festival harpsichordist, with the Spokane String Quartet in concert, EWU Music Building Recital Hall in Cheney, noon. (Free)

Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 5, and Cantata No. 60. Bach Festival Orchestra and Chorus with Kelly Farris, violin, Gale Coffee, flute, Ilton Wjuniski, harpsichord, JoAnne Bouma, alto, Fritz Robertson, tenor and Robert Honeysucker, bass-baritone; St. John’s Cathedral, 8 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Feb. 7, Saturday

Morning master class with Bach Festival baritone Robert Honeysucker, Whitworth College Music Building Recital Hall, 10 a.m. (Free)

Afternoon with Bach Festival tenor Fritz Robertson, Gonzaga University Hughes Auditorium, 1 p.m. (Free)

Feb. 8, Sunday

Chamber music recital with Ilton Wjuniski, harpsichord, Margriet Tindemans, viola da gamba, and the Spokane String Quartet, 3 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 2 p.m., The Met. ($16, $8 for students)

Tickets, information: For information about the 1998 Bach Festival call Connoisseur Concerts at 326-4942. For information concerning Bach Festival events for college credit through Eastern Washington University, or for information concerning the festival’s educational events, call the EWU Music Department at 359-2241. For tickets, call G&B; Select-A-Seat, 325-SEAT or (800) 325-SEAT.

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. BACH FEST The Northwest Bach Festival features 19 events, including concerts, master classes and lectures, through Feb. 8. Most events are free.

2. NORTHWEST BACH FESTIVAL Today Bach for Pianists Master Class with Veronica Jochum, Bach Festival pianist, EWU Music Bldg. Recital Hall, noon. (Free)

Friday Fourth Annual Harpsichord Happening, Holy Names Music Center, 4 p.m. (Free) Piano recital by Veronica Jochum, The Met, 8 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Saturday Harpsichord Happening hosted by pianist and teacher Greg Presley, Holy Names Music Center, 10 a. m. (Free) Morning master class with James David Christie, Bach Festival organist, St. John’s Cathedral, 9:30 a.m. (Free)

Sunday Organ recital by James David Christie, St. John’s Cathedral, 3 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Monday Gunther Schuller, Bach Festival artistic director, discusses his book “The Compleat Conductor,” Auntie’s Bookstore, 7:30 p.m. (Free)

Tuesday “To France and Italy and Bach Again,” lecture by Eastern Washington University historian Ann LeBar, EWU Music Bldg., Room 248, 4:30 p.m. (Free)

Wednesday “Musical Instruments, Then and Now” with Karen Walthinsen and friends, EWU Music Building, Room 248, Cheney campus, noon. (Free) Margriet Tindemans, Bach Festival viola da gambist, with the EWU Baroque Orchestra, in concert, EWU Music Building Recital Hall in Cheney, 3 p.m. (Free) Chamber Music Recital with Margriet Tindeman, viola da gamba, Ilton Wjuniski, harpsichord, and Robert Honeysucker, bass baritone, The Met, 8 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Feb. 5, Thursday “Celebrating Hildegard von Bingen’s 900th Birthday” with Bach Festival artist Margriet Tindemans, EWU Music Building, Room 248, in Cheney, 4:30 p.m. (Free) Open rehearsal of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 5, the Festival Orchestra, Gunther Schuller conducting; St. John’s Cathedral, 7 p.m. (Free)

Feb. 6, Friday Ilton Wjuniski, Bach Festival harpsichordist, with the Spokane String Quartet in concert, EWU Music Building Recital Hall in Cheney, noon. (Free) Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 5, and Cantata No. 60. Bach Festival Orchestra and Chorus with Kelly Farris, violin, Gale Coffee, flute, Ilton Wjuniski, harpsichord, JoAnne Bouma, alto, Fritz Robertson, tenor and Robert Honeysucker, bass-baritone; St. John’s Cathedral, 8 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. ($16, $8 for students)

Feb. 7, Saturday Morning master class with Bach Festival baritone Robert Honeysucker, Whitworth College Music Building Recital Hall, 10 a.m. (Free) Afternoon with Bach Festival tenor Fritz Robertson, Gonzaga University Hughes Auditorium, 1 p.m. (Free)

Feb. 8, Sunday Chamber music recital with Ilton Wjuniski, harpsichord, Margriet Tindemans, viola da gamba, and the Spokane String Quartet, 3 p.m.; pre-concert talk at 2 p.m., The Met. ($16, $8 for students)

Tickets, information: For information about the 1998 Bach Festival call Connoisseur Concerts at 326-4942. For information concerning Bach Festival events for college credit through Eastern Washington University, or for information concerning the festival’s educational events, call the EWU Music Department at 359-2241. For tickets, call G&B; Select-A-Seat, 325-SEAT or (800) 325-SEAT.


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