Philosophy

THE ENCYCLOPEDIC BACH

The emphasis on programming will be on the encyclopedic Bach—presenting full cycles of works in a single concert, such as all French Suites for keyboard, all violin partitas, all  cello suites, all organ trio sonatas. In this way, audience members and performers will see Bach’s extraordinary musical intellect expressed in a single genre, charting how he developed his musical language and solved musical problems within each set of related works. We will program choral cantatas by the church calendar in seasonal groupings—Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, Trinity Sundays—allowing us to see Bach the musical theologian at work, using musical imagery to elucidate biblical texts.

The eleven-year project will include all of Bach’s original works, generally presenting only one version if a work was later revised by Bach. We will exclude works of doubtful provenance, and include Bach’s own arrangements of other composers’ works. We might present another composer’s version, such as a Busoni piano arrangement of a Bach original: after all, for generations, that was the way in which some of Bach’s music survived. We will present contemporary ‘takes’ on Bach’s music as well, in performances of jazz versions, for example. We will also showcase some works with dancers or actors, or with a multi-media presentation, to experience his music through a new prism, while also appealing to a wider audience.

BACH’S BROAD TENT: PERFORMANCE PRACTICES

We believe this is only the second project ever to present everything that Bach wrote, following in the footsteps of the Netherlands Bach Society’s ongoing project, All of Bach. In contrast to their groundbreaking, on-line project, which features performances primarily by one ensemble, THE COMPLETE BACH will involve a large range of performers from Worcester and beyond. In the spirit of Bach’s own career, which included professional court ensembles as well as the amateur Thomanerchor and pro-am orchestra in Leipzig, we seek to bring together a wide range of musicians of all ages and experiences.

We also want to capture a snapshot of the current Bach performance climate in the early 21st century, an era in which modern instruments coexist happily with period instruments; when large choirs and orchestras can present works just as acceptably as one-voice-per-part ensembles with period instruments. We will present keyboard music on harpsichord and piano, and as well as large symphonic and Baroque tracker organs. Women will sing in our choirs, but so will boys and countertenors. Just as Bach himself so often pulled together all historical strains of musical tradition in his music, so too will we represent the many possible representations of three centuries of Bach performance practice.

This Love Between Us

VIJAY GUPTA & THE WORCESTER CHORUS

MECHANICS HALL, NOVEMBER 2023