WQXR to Present 'Bach 360' Festival

A Ten-Day Festival Devoted to Bach's Complete Works: March 21-31, 2013

Friday, March 08, 2013

Get ready to Bach around the clock.

WQXR will be presenting over 200 hours of the music of J.S. Bach, from March 21 (the composer's birthday) through March 31 (Easter Sunday).

The festival will last 10 days and will cover every single piece by the composer – from the beloved Brandenburg concertos to the sublimely beautiful passions and the intricate fugues — in a range of styles, including live recordings, classic interpretations, period-instrument performances, modern transcriptions and orchestrations, among others. 

The music will be peppered with expert commentary, daily themes (“Bach in Leipzig,” “Bach on Keyboard”), biographical details, and insights by musicians, scholars and writers, such as Paul Elie, author of Reinventing Bach; Christoph Wolff, the leading Bach scholar in the United States; and Oliver Sacks, neuroscientist and author of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

  Bach 360 will also feature two live events in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR:

  • On Saturday, March 23 from 7-11pm, WQXR presents "Bach Lounge," an evening dedicated to cross-genre re-imaginings of the master’s work. Guests will include pianist Ethan Iverson, jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, singer/composer Gabriel Kahane, violinist Jennifer Koh, cellist Jan Vogler, pianist Benjamin Hochman, early music performance from Julliard 415, and other artists will perform the Bach works which most speak to them.
  • On Wednesday, March 28, at 12 noon, Simone Dinnerstein will perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations in her first New York performance of the complete work since 2009.*

WQXR.org will be the place for listeners to share their reactions and stories about Bach's music.

A special edition of WQXR’s classical music industry podcast, Conducting Business will convene a roundtable of experts on the longstanding debate around whether Bach should only be played “authentic” using the instruments and style of his day, or whether the work is open to modern interpretations and reworkings.

There will be a "Bach Café," a series of videos of notable performers playing Bach at WQXR’s intimate café. And for those looking to add some movement to their listening experience, WQXR.org will program a special Bach yoga playlist specifically for instructors to use in their classes. The track listing will be published on WQXR.org as well.

Finally, WQXR.org will offer a free download from a new Bach recording each day of the festival. Up first will be a reissue of a classic Pablo Casals version of Cello Suite No. 1.


* Simone Dinnerstein's free concert is made possible by support from The North Highland Company, a global consulting company.


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Comments [23]

I've had it up to here with Bach, whom I love for much of his music, but not all. And as much as the station has tried to mix up the selections, there are times when it's just too much, and I long for the "Bach-anal" to be over.

Beethoven Awareness month was nice because it wasn't exclusively Beethoven. And while WQXR's ordinary repetitive playing of short pop pieces leaves much to be desired, I prefer it to the overwhelm of 10 days of almost nothing but Bach.

It's a relief that there are other classical music radio options on the Internet to turn to under the circumstances.

Mar. 28 2013 07:44 PM
Maryellen from Brooklyn

I can't wait for Bach 360 to end. Please never do this again. So monotonous and boring. Too much of a muchness. Beethoven awareness month was Ok becuse it wasn't all Beethoven all the time. Bach 360 is getting to be as bad as fundraising. I've tuned out as of today.

Now, Mozart 360, that I think I'd like--much more variety in his work.

Mar. 27 2013 11:10 PM
Peter Feldman from New York City

I believe that the benefit of having WQXR in New York City is over-rated. Their programs are very repetitive. Each week they broadcast music of a new CD several times the same day. Their "festivals" of one composer music are excessive and boring. These "festivals" do not make any good. Music by Bach was composed to be played in churches, I do not want a church to be brought day and night to my home. The previous ownership of WQXR had the policy of not playing the same piece of music more than once each month. I heard online a wonderful balanced program of French music including a violin and piano sonata by Poulenc, a baroque motet by Charpentier and ballet music by Debussy from a radio in Munich, Germany. WQXR must learn more from other radios in broadcasting interesting and varied programs. The programmers of WQXR are too conservatives and do not have any new ideas other than repeat the same type of music over and over. Continuous repetition shows a limited knowledge of music in general.

Mar. 26 2013 08:54 AM
Paul Kaufman from Bergenfield, NJ

I confess to a certain amount of trepidation when I heard that there would be ten days of ONLY Bach's music. I couldn't imagine how ANY composer could maintain audience interest for such an extended period. Now that the Bach festival has begun, I find that I'm continually dazzled by the improbable and consistent perfection of this music. Whether it's vocal, instrumental, orchestral, or choral, the music constantly displays brilliance of form and diversity of emotional expression. It's reassuring to know that, during these ten days, I can turn on WQXR at any hour of the day or night and experience elation, tranquility,or comfort. Although the festival is only half over, I'm already regretting the fact that it will end in several short days.

Mar. 25 2013 10:28 AM
roberta from ulster county

This is joy! This is Glory! Here you from tghe wilds. Will send a few dollars. Thanks a lot. You are alive. Bac h lives forever

Mar. 23 2013 08:49 AM
John S Clark from New Jersey

I think it's kind of perverse that in an important anniversary year for Wagner, Verdi and Britten you're playing every note of Bach. The rationale is lost on me.

Mar. 23 2013 12:23 AM
Wendy from Mahattan

Between WQXR and the NY Philharmonic I am in heaven with all the Bach. I like that I never know what is coming up as there are so many surprises. since Bach clearly recycled many tunes I find things I sang at school or as an amateur chorister and voice student turn up in all kinds of places, startling me. I also hit familiar pieces like hearing the great Passacaglia on the organ today, which my late husband played with Stokowski conducting his orchestral version back in 1940. As today this would have been our 49th wedding anniversary it gave me both sadness and a good feeling. the programming is excellent, providing a constant glimpse of Bach's great variety.

Bravo and do it again next year!!!!

Mar. 22 2013 04:12 PM
Maria Dian Therese from Dover, NJ

Thank you for this generous offering of Bach. It is enriching to the spirit especially as it is coinciding with Lent. It is very rich & greatly appreciated.

Mar. 21 2013 09:22 AM
iska Alter

I think your Bach festival is quite a wonderful idea--a Bachanalia indeed.

Mar. 19 2013 10:25 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Good idea, to devote such a substantial amount of time to such an important composer, but it is not original. WKCR, the much less glitzy and more adventurous Columbia Univeristy station (89.9 FM) has been doing a 10 day (sometimes longer) Bach Festival around Christmas and New Year's Day for years. While the format is different (e.g., there can be a section devoted to organ music, or to cantatas, or to a particular performer), and while it does not state that it plays every work in the canon, I am sure they have done it many times. I guess we'll see whether or not this becomes an annual event on WQXR as well, or whether the station will similarly honor other composers.

Interestingly (to some), there is also usually a segment on KCR (usually with Phil Schaap) exploring the relationships between various jazz performers and J.S. Bach.

Mar. 19 2013 07:45 AM
Mary Jewell from Franklin Park, NJ

I too, would love to see the schedule. It's difficult to be able to listen to all of it! I had to comment on this site after seeing the post of an individual placing J.S. Bach "way down on his list". In response, I would reply, there's a reason that numerous other great composers after Bach's time studied his music thoroughly before writing their own. In addition, the fact that Jazz musicians also study Bach is another testament to the depth and breadth of his work. I look forward to hearing as much of the festival as I can.

Mar. 18 2013 11:32 PM
Dan Kaminski from Sparks, Nevada

Not everyone likes Bach as much as some of the people I've heard on our station lately. I, for one, put him well down on the list of my own favorite composers, which includes Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Dvorak, (more or less in that order).

I'm retired, and listen to WQXR pretty much all day long, or when I'm at home anyway. I'm curious to see how long I'll last listening to the Bachfest. I'm thinking it will be somewhere about a day and a half. If that long.

Keep reading if you want to know why. To my ears, much - too much actually, of Bach's music consists of notes running up and down the scale in seemingly random progression. Not all of it, of course. Some of it is very tuneful, and gorgeous. But most of it, again to my ears, seems like a butterfly's flight, hither and yon, at the whim of the breezes. Up and down, and as much sideways as back and forth. I've heard this kind of music called airy-fairy, which seems about right to me. And by the way, this is how most of jazz sounds to me, and is probably the same reason I really don't care for jazz. "Modern jazz", if it is still called that.

Anyway, good luck with the Bachfest.

Mar. 17 2013 07:57 PM
Rae Barlow from New York City

This seems to be analogous to only eating chocolate for ten days. Too much of a good thing.

Mar. 15 2013 08:47 PM
Bob from Ossining, NY

I'm hoping the station will publish a schedule of the festival in advance on this web site. It would be very helpful to know when to tune in to hear various aspects of Bach's musical output.

Mar. 15 2013 03:58 PM
Anne Van Orden from Sayreville, NJ

Greatest musician and composer of all time ~ no one else even comes close. And no one will.

Bach’s music is the only argument proving the creation of the Universe can not be regarded a complete failure.
E. M. Cioran

I do not think that music keeps evolving. It evolved through Bach; since then, in my humble opinion, all the innovations added nothing.
Gordon Getty

If Bach's not [in heaven], I'm not going!
William F. Buckley, Jr.

Wynton Marsalis, when asked who is the greatest western musician:
You can't get higher than Bach unless you're Gabriel. His chorales are the bssis of all western harmony.

Amen to them all! :)

Mar. 15 2013 01:56 PM
sibern from Brooklyn


Mar. 14 2013 11:19 AM
Paul Murphy from Hyannis,MA

Bach was most inspirational to a struggling math student like me.
The presentation with Glass is most interesting.

Mar. 12 2013 01:52 PM

I am actually not a big fan of "All-Composer-All-the-Time" programming. Bach-fest? Maybe. 200 hours of all Bach? Not so much. I'll tune in intermittently.

Mar. 12 2013 12:51 AM
Robert from NYC

Yes I'm aware of my typos in the previous post. I was somewhat steaming and didn't check. I thing bough for bow is the funniest. But I'm still miffed over your lack of organ music programmed.

Mar. 10 2013 02:02 PM
Robert from NYC

Here you go again a piece by Bach for Organ (St Anne P&F) and you have an orchestral version playing. WQXR seems to hate organ. I am an organist and frankly wouldn't support your station, well, if you paid me to!!! LOL It's that ridiculous. I listen to your station because I love all music. But as an organist I have to say your organ selections, if they can be called that, are far and few between, as it were. JSBach was first and foremost an organist and held that title with pride and dignity. Organ was his most beloved instrument and he even was called to review newly built organs in his lifetime because his knowledge and opinion were highly respected in organ building and by builders. I say as a radio station who proclaims the love of music you most assuredly show no or very little regard, and even less respect the King of Instruments and Johann Sebastian Bach himself by ignoring the organ, not to mention the many other fine composers and compositions of organ music. You also in doing this ignore the fine and very gifted and talented organists both past and present as if not even deserving of respect of their talents by not playing them on you programs. Shame on you WQXR, like the city of New York where only one major recital hall has an organ, you should both bough your heads in shame for your lack or interest and respect for the organ. Or are you just organ haters! Tsk tsk tsk. And shame on the AGO for going after you for you neglectful behavior. That's it, I'm stopping here although I'm not finished saying what I think needs said.

Mar. 10 2013 01:57 PM
Jack Shelton from Overland Park, KS

Some of the greatest music ever written, by the best performers in the world.

Looking foward to it.

Mar. 08 2013 06:34 PM
Annette Shandolow-Hassell from North Bergen, NJ

Bach-to-Bach Bach!! Terrific!

Mar. 08 2013 02:56 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Following WKCR's lead.


I can only hope the urge to have organ and harpsichord dominate is kept in check.

Dinnerstein in a live Greene Space (??) encore 'sounds' great.

Mar. 08 2013 11:19 AM

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