Stay tuned for online event details for the Bach Parley June 7 Concert
The Tallahassee Bach Parley performs music of the Baroque era (approx. 1600-1750) using period instruments. This recreates for our audiences the experience of hearing and seeing Baroque music as it may have been originally performed hundreds of years ago while generating a fresh sound immediately accessible to listeners today. The word “parley” in French means discussion and a key element of Tallahassee Bach Parley concerts is the commentary offered by our music director to engage andView more
INDIVIDUAL DATES & TIMES*
- Jun 7, 2020 at 03:00 pm - 05:00 pm (Sun)
Additional time info:
Because it’s not possible for the Bach Parley to rehearse as an ensemble just now, on Sunday, June 7, music director Valerie Arsenault will offer “One Makes Music: Sharing Hope in Solitude”, a one-woman program of unaccompanied violin music of Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as three other composers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She says, “For violinists these solo Bach pieces are a touchstone. We work on them our entire lives, practicing in solitude, and from time to time sharing them in concerts.” Arsenault will perform on a baroque violin and bow, constructed and set up in a way that each composer would recognize.
On Sunday, June 7, Arsenault will be available to chat live on the Bach Parley Facebook page at 2:30 P.M. before the 3:00 P.M. concert. She says, “I always love to walk around and visit with people in the audience before every Bach Parley concert, and by going live at 2:30PM, we’re going to do this online.”
The violin is a social instrument — violinists most often play with at least one other musician as a duo, up to an entire orchestra. Less common are pieces written for solo violin alone, unaccompanied, where one person must play all of the melodies and harmonies. In these pieces this means the violinist must play at least 2 parts, and sometimes up to 4 parts at a time, echoing an ensemble piece with only one player.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685 and is the youngest composer on this program. John Paul von Westhoff was born in 1656 (twenty-nine years before Bach), Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber was in 1644 (forty-one years before Bach), and Johann Joseph Vislmayr was born in 1663 (twenty-two years before Bach). Each composer tackles the challenge of writing for a single violin accompanying itself in a different way.
The pieces on this concert are deeply personal to Arsenault. Several of the concert selections are brand-new to her. She learned the two pieces by Westhoff only in the past several weeks, but the other pieces are old friends. Arsenault says, “The Bach Allemande in D minor is the first piece of solo Bach I ever learned to play, more than 30 years ago, but I play it quite differently now. Every time I return to practice one of these “old friends” the music has more to tell me, to teach me, and I can respond with a new interpretation informed by what is happening in the present moment.”
The original manuscript of the Biber Passacaglia has an engraving of a guardian angel at the top. There are four repeating notes are running continuously through the entire piece, and this constant support could be likened to a guardian angel. One of the Bach movements is like a lullaby, and steady line of equal eighth notes support the melody like a heartbeat.
Arsenault says, “For the all the J. S. Bach pieces, we can see the original manuscript, written with a quill with Bach’s own hand. In this time of physical isolation, I love that we can connect through both time and distance, right back to the parchment Bach had on his desk.”
Some of the pieces on this concert are brand-new to Arsenault in the past several weeks, there are other pieces she’s been living with and working on for 20 or 30 years. “For this concert, I want to share where I am right now, practicing in the COVID-19 spring of 2020, and that this is how these pieces are working in me now. I can never be perfect, but I can share this music which means so much to me. I am still learning and will keep practicing as long as I am able. My students have been practicing almost every day alongside me on Zoom, and they are an inspiration.”
While they are unaccompanied, some of these pieces been accompanying me most of my life, and I never feel alone when I play them First, there’s the connection with the composer, even if they died centuries ago. This hits me the hardest when I look at facsimiles of the Bach’s manuscripts straight from a quill in the composer’s own hand. Next, there’s the connection with all of the violinist over the centuries who have ever wrestled with, learned from, and loved these pieces, including all of my students as well as all of my teachers. And finally, the music is only complete when someone else listens to it, either in a concert, or in this case, online.
The Tallahassee Bach Parley is the umbrella organization for a non-profit music school, the Bach Parley String Academy. Founded in 2015, the String Academy offers violin, viola and cello lessons. Since March, the String Academy has transitioned to online lessons.
For additional information about the Tallahassee Bach Parley, including the Bach Parley String Academy music school, visit www.bachparley.org.
211 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301