The Boston Bach Birthday is back! First Lutheran Church of Boston will hold its annual celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach and his music on Saturday, March 25th to honor the 338th anniversary of Sebastian’s birth. All musical events are free, with donations gratefully accepted. Tickets are only required for the famous, not-to-be-missed German lunch ($15 at the door), presented by the FLC Young Adults.
This year’s program returns to the BBB’s roots as an organ-centric event, featuring heavily “Boston’s Bach Organ,” built in 2000 by Richards, Fowkes & Co. FLC’s Kantor Jonathan Wessler will play a two-part program (8:30am and 1:10pm) featuring all six of Bach’s demanding trio sonatas, interspersed with lesser-known trio-texture chorale preludes. At 11am local organist Rosalind Mohnsen will play a program of music by Bach and friends, and at 4pm Heejin Kim, the most recent Yuko Hayashi Memorial First Prize winner of the Boston Bach International Organ Competition, will play a program of music in the keys of Bach’s name: B-flat, A, C, and H (B).
The BBB traditionally features programs for children of all ages, and this year is no exception. At 10am silent film accompanist Peter Krasinski will present “Peter and the Pipes,” a multimedia presentation as to the many parts that make up FLC’s brilliant pipe organ, and provide an improvised organ accompaniment to the famous French film The Red Balloon. Prior to Peter’s program, the Young People’s Concert at 9:30 will feature young instrumentalists playing Bach’s music, demonstrating that Bach truly speaks to all ages.
Lest Bach be considered only as a composer of organ music, the BBB features Bach’s music for other instruments and voice as well. At 3:05pm flautist Kateri Chambers and soprano Sarah Bellott will present a program featuring music of Bach, his family, and contemporaries from the area around Bach’s birthplace of Eisenach in Thuringia. And at 2:10pm Artem Belogurov will perform a program of Bach and Handel upon a replica Baroque piano, a copy of an instrument built by the inventor of the piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori. Just prior to this at 2pm, the builder of the Cristofori replica, Kerstin Schwarz, will be on hand to present a discussion of Cristofori, illuminating the challenges researchers and builders face when exploring the remarkable sophistication and subtlety of the very first piano.
As is tradition, the BBB closes with a festival Vespers service at 5pm, similar to those Bach himself would have led in the 1730s and 1740s in Leipzig. As this year’s BBB takes place on the feast of the Annunciation, the Vespers will have a Marian accent, featuring Bach’s cantata for the Annunciation, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern BWV 1, and the glorious “Uppsala” Magnificat by Heinrich Schütz.
Here is a complete list of music that will be performed at this year’s Boston Bach Birthday. Exact times and pieces are subject to change.
8:30am | JONATHAN WESSLER, organ, Sonata no. 1 in E-flat Major, BWV 525, Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 717, Sonata no. 2 in C Minor, BWV 526, Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 695, Sonata no. 3 in D Minor, BWV 527
9:30am | YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERT, Concerto in E Major, BWMV 1042—I., Prelude in C, BWV 846/1, Sonata in E Major, BWV 1016—I. Adagio, Concerto for Two Violins (“Double”), BWV 1043—I.
10am | PETER KRASINSKI, organ, Toccata, BWV 564/1, The Red Balloon, The Organ Hymn (with lyrics by Krasinski)
11am | ROSALIND MOHNSEN, organ, Prelude & fugue in E-flat Major, BWV 55, Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727, Herzlich tut mich verlangen (Johann Kirnberger, Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott (Franz Tunder), Prelude in A Minor (Johann Kittel, Preludio in La minore sopra un corale di Bach (Ottorino Respighi), Fantasia & fugue in G Minor, BWV 542
12pm | GERMAN LUNCH (tickets $15 at the door)
1:10pm | JONATHAN WESSLER, organ, Sonata no. 4 in e, BWV 528, Nun freut euch, lieben Christen, g’mein, BWV 734, Sonata no. 5 in C Major, BWV 529, Wo soll ich fliehen hin, BWV 694, Sonata no. 6 in D Minor, BWV 530
2:10pm | ARTEM BELOGUROV, Baroque piano, Partita in E Minor, BWV 830, Prelude & fugue in E Minor, BWV 879, Suite in E Minor (George Frideric Handel)
3:10pm | KATERI CHAMBERS, flute and SARAH BELLOTT, soprano Fantasia no. 7—Alla francese (Georg Philipp Telemann), Ich habe genug, BWV 82a—Aria, Sonata in G Minor, BWV 1020—Allegro (attr. JS & CPE Bac, Sonata for flute and basso continuo—Siciliano (Wilhelm Friedemann Bach), Sonata in G Major—Allegro (Anna Bon), St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244—Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben, Sonata in B-flat Major—Vivace (CPE Bach), Süsse Stille, sanfte Quelle (Georg Frideric , Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1030—Largo e dolce, Orchestral Suite no. 2—Polonaise/Double, Badinerie. Fugue in B-flat Major on BACH (Johann Krebs), Fugue in B-flat Major on BACH, BWV 898/2, Fuga super Allein Gott, BWV 71, Fantasia & fugue in A Minor, BWV 904, Fugue in BACH, op. 60, no. 3 (Robert Schuman, Fugue no. 3 from Three Fugues on BACH (Ernst Pepping), Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV Anh. 49, Prelude & fugue in B Minor, BWV 544
5pm | VESPERS, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (Dieterich Buxtehude), Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1, Magnificat (“Uppsala”) (Heinrich Schütz), Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 739