Around the World with Bach in the Subways

March 21, 2016, 9:42 PM · Happy birthday Bach!

Thousands of musicians across the world celebrated Johann Sebastian Bach's 331st birthday by offering free Bach performances in public places all weekend and through Monday (the composer's actual birthday), as a part of Bach in the Subways, brain child of New York City cellist Dale Henderson that has blossomed into a huge event in six years.

The rules for musicians are: "Play J.S. Bach any time, anywhere between 12:00 am on Saturday, March 19 and 11:59 pm on Monday, March 21, 2016." Lucky people who stumbled on these performances (or showed up on purpose) got to witness some great playing. Take, for example, violinist Nigel Armstrong, who played the "Ciaccona" from Bach's Partita No. 2 in D minor in Los Angeles Union Station. Armstrong's performance was part of an 11-hour "Bach Marathon," so a little later in the day, I got to play some chamber music in the same place -- and I had a great time!


I joined Chamber Music Los Angeles and conductor David Newby to play movements from an Orchestral Suite, a few arias from Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos No. 2 and 3. This was just one group in an 11-hour Bach marathon at Union Station LA.

Chamber Music Los Angeles

The crowd which to several hundred as we played at LA's architecturally gorgeous Union Station.

Bach crowd at Union Station

As soprano Olivia Neely sang "Hilf, Jesu Hilf" from Cantata 147, several small children took a keen interest!

Olivia Neely

I was tickled that a student who is a graduate of the Suzuki group in which I teach, Suzuki Talent Education of Pasadena (STEP) was there, and her mother was playing!

with Emma

Here I am with one of the organizers of the Los Angeles event, violinist Adrienne Andisheh, with a few more young violinists:

with Adrienne Andisheh

Here are a group of musicians and organizers of the Los Angeles Bach Marathon, left to right: Brandon Encinas, Yu-Ting Wu, Lydia Yun, Billy Tobenkin, Felix Hernandez, Adrienne Andisheh:

BiS organizers and musicians

Our event was just one of many in the Los Angeles, and many, many more around the world! According to Henderson, last year Bach in the Subways counted thousands of groups that held mini-concerts in 140 cities in 40 countries; this year they know there are even more, but they will have to wait until the event is over (midnight March 21) to start tallying them all, "and even then, some musicians don't bother registering on the website. They just go play!"

Here are some scenes from other performances around the world, via Twitter:

Brooklyn Rider at the Bachhaus Eisenach, Germany:

In Singapore:

Brandenburg 3 in the Burlington, Vermont, International Airport Saturday:

Mount Sinai Guggenheim Pavilion, New York City:

From the Conservatory of Music in Campobasso, Italy:

Charlotte Symphony's Tom Burge:

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March 22, 2016 at 06:04 AM · Wonderful! We simply need to get this music out into the public as opposed to "modernising" it or trying all sorts of gimmicks and sex appeal to make it appeal to a wider audience. The music is powerful enough to draw them in. Well done to all involved!

March 22, 2016 at 03:51 PM · Happy birthday Bach we should all admire this wonderful composer because of his beautiful pieces

March 26, 2016 at 03:41 AM · That's so cool! I did not know about this event. I'll try to persuade people to play with me next year - in case I don't, I'll play by myself ;D

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