Origins of Bach in Baltimore. T. Herbert Dimmock recounts the beginning and special events in the history of Bach in Baltimore. BDP #257.

(music: J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1)

All of my life I have had a deep love of music. I remember when I was about five years old beginning piano lessons. I remember as I went through school and advanced to pieces such as Bach Inventions and then by the 9th grade I began studying the organ. The organ music of Bach so filled me with joy that I decided during high school that I wanted to be a professional musician.

So, it was particularly fortunately for me in 1988 to become the music director of one of the biggest Lutheran churches in Baltimore. When I went to that church they told me that they had an outreach program designed specifically to present concerts to the community and they asked me what I might interested be doing. It took me all of five seconds to say that I wanted to do a series of concerts on the music of Bach and present them to the community at large.

For some years preceding that I had the honor and privilege of studying with the first person in the world who had recorded the complete works of Bach. His name was Helmuth Rilling. He was the music director of the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart. He also ran a very, very highly regarded program at the University of Oregon called the Oregon Bach Festival every summer. Having studied with him and having received very interesting insights into Bach's Cantatas, I was very excited with the idea of being able to re-present that music here in Baltimore.

So, in 1988 we started. I had some wonderful professional singers in my choir. I was in a beautiful church and from the very first concert we began hiring the finest players in the Baltimore area. Some were members of the Baltimore Symphony and others were distinguished, high level freelancers in the community. For me, it was of particular interest to unlock the secrets for the public of the Cantatas of Bach. So even at that very first concert, we talked about the things within the music that taken together became a commentary of the music which Bach put on top of the music. I found that mentioning those things and having the orchestra, and the singers, and the choir demonstrate them deepened the appreciation of the audience for the music of Bach. That was in 1988 and in those very earliest days all of the concerts were at First English Lutheran Church in mid-town Baltimore near John's Hopkins. The first concerts were given on various dates depending upon what was convenient in the calendar. We quickly began to build an audience. In fact, in less than a year we were putting chairs in the aisle to accommodate that people who were coming. So, from those beginnings, Bach in Baltimore grew, adding more concerts, opening it up for members of the community at large, eventually becoming what the series is today.

I am really honored and touched when I think about how the group has grown over the years. What a great, good fortunate thing it was to be given in 1988 an opportunity to begin and design a concert series that has grown into what Bach in Baltimore is and continues to be today.

(music: J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1)