Quick study Bach. There’s an oxymoron for you. Why, just recently I heard myself saying to a student, “You cannot cram Bach! It just doesn’t work!” That is, when I’ve heard people try to learn a work of Bach on short notice, more often than not, they panic and the performance falls apart. Believe me, unfortunately I know firsthand the realities of having a performance become a train wreck when it comes to playing a work of Bach and not having adequate practice. [EPIC FAIL!] The notes in Bach have “to sink in” and “become part of you.” You cannot sightread Bach with any degree of musicianship and authority.
As my teacher used to tell me, “Bach separates the men from the boys!”
Well, this week, I have no choice. I was just given the music yesterday for a concert I am performing next week with the Oahu Choral Society Chamber Choir. The program is called “Motets & Cantatas”—works by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn and will be conducted by Esther Yoo. Thank goodness, I am only playing organ for the two works of Bach: Motet No. 3, “Jesu meine Freude, BWV 227” and Cantata 56, “Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen.” The concert will take place at St. Andrew’s Cathedral on Saturday, April 22nd at 7:30 pm.
It used to always make me laugh when the Honolulu Symphony contracted me for orchestra gigs. The questions were, in this order:
- Are you available?
- Can we borrow your organ?
- Can you bring your own music?
I’m afraid for this gig it’s no different! Yes, it means that I have agreed to loan my baby organ for the concert, and the April 22nd concert will be its coming out party. S & S Delivery will be picking up the baby pipe organ from my condo on Wednesday for the dress rehearsal that night! [Out in the real world for the first time! Stay safe, baby organ!]
As for music, I already had the organ part for “Jesu meine Freude.” However, since there was “no organ part available” for Cantata 56, I was given the vocal score and told to do the best I can. Yes— I am having “to make up my own part” by reading the bass line from the vocal score and filling in the appropriate chords! Fortunately (or unfortunately!), it’s something I’ve had to do on many occasions! I dare say that I will be the only instrumentalist that night “ad-libbing” as I go along!
Here is a performance of Cantata 56 conducted by Philipp Herreweghe with baritone Peter Kooy (whom I have had the great fortune of hearing in person.) Jeremy Wong will be the baritone soloist in next week’s concert.