Bach in Baltimore Today. T. Herbert Dimmock introduces the Bach in Baltimore series. BDP #258.

 <music: J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1>

Today Bach in Baltimore is a flourishing organization. It was founded in 1988 presenting concerts from time to time at various intervals. Today Bach in Baltimore presents a concert on the first Sunday of every month from October through June. It is a choir of 40-45 singers accompanied by a fabulous, fully professional orchestra of Baroque specialists. I am very pleased with the soloists whom we hire. As you know, this area is honored and privileged to have excellent, excellent schools of music: a major conservatory, two major universities. They are turning out superb singers and instrumentalists. I am particularly pleased to give some of those singers one of their first opportunities to perform professionally for the public when they first get out of school.

Bach in Baltimore tries to take the music to the people. We are in residence at Christ Lutheran Church in the inner harbor. Christ Lutheran Church is a beautiful building that seats about 750 people, has fabulous acoustics, and ample parking right there in the inner harbor in Baltimore. We always begin our season there and we hold our weekly rehearsals in their spaces. But we also move around town. We go to Towson, we go to Howard County, and we go to Harford County. We have found that by taking our concerts to those places that we are able to introduce people to music by Bach who might not have otherwise heard it.

All of our Cantata concerts begin with an introduction to Bach’s musical language as found in the work that we are about to perform. It affords is an opportunity to shine a light on some of the hidden joys of Bach’s music - which many people don’t know about. If you look at a Bach Cantata and just listen to the music, you find that the melodies are beautiful, the counterpoint—the way the lines weave together—are astonishingly well done. The instrumentation and ornamentation are all imaginative and gorgeous. But underneath it all is a whole level of symbolism that Bach has put together. The examples are almost too numerous to talk about. For example, Bach talks about a place in the creed about the Father and Son being the same and yet different. Now how would you describe that in music? Well for Bach it is an easy thing. He takes the melody [example--G G Bb A] like that. An he has one player play [example—G G Bb A with long notes] and the other player plays [example--G G Bb A with short notes], the same, yet different. If you did that in speech you would take many words, and even then, it might be hard to understand.  However, in his music Bach made it simple. There are many similar examples. As we present pieces of music we illuminate those specific examples as found in the cantata to the audience. The orchestra demonstrates them; the singers demonstrate them. Then we perform the piece in its entirety. Our audiences have consistently given us feedback stating that they appreciate those little mysteries of Bach being unlocked.

Today, Bach in Baltimore is an auditioned choir of about 45 singers who love to sing. It is friendly; it is fun. The chorus practices on Sunday evenings. On the first Sunday of the month they perform with an orchestra. They’re joined by great soloists from the greater Mid-Atlantic area (with an emphasis on Baltimore.) Bach in Baltimore engages the finest instrumentalists in the area. All join together in some of the most beautiful buildings in the greater Baltimore area to present this music. Bach in Baltimore has a fabulous board that helps to keep the organization going. In an era when so much is a challenge within the performing arts, we are proud as punch of the fact that we have been growing year by year for every one of our years since 1988 the date of  our founding.

Bach in Baltimore at It is a fabulous organization, and I am honored and privileged to be a part of it.

<music: J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1>