Concerts, lectures and a film featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach are planned this fall in Waupaca.
“Bach’s music was the popular music of his day,” said Marci Reynolds, one of the festival’s organizers. “If he were alive today, he’d probably be playing jazz or blues because he was such a great improviser. We’re trying to bring his music back to the people.”
The organizers are working with local music teachers and musicians, Winchester Academy, churches, the Waupaca Area Public Library and even a brewery to draw a broader audience.
“We’re trying to put the music in all kinds of different venues so that it reaches people other than those who usually go to classical concerts,” Reynolds said.
The festival opens with Bach in the Brewery, slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Central Waters Brewery in Amherst.
Bill Weinmann, from Stevens Point, will perform. There is no cover charge.
“In addition to the music, there will be a ‘Bach Bock’ beer especially brewed for the occasion, a Bach impersonator contest and educational infusion throughout the night about the life and times of J.S. Bach in a fun program,” Reynolds said.
Winchester Academy will host Dr. Trevor Stephenson, a Baroque music specialist from Madison, for two programs on Monday, Sept. 30.
At 3:30 p.m., Stephenson will present “All Hands on the Harpsichord” at 3:30 p.m. as part of a free, after-school program.
He will play the harpsichord, invite children to come up on the stage and show them how the instrument works and tell them about Bach.
“It has been challenging in the past to involve students in the community with some of the classical events,” Reynolds said. “To break this barrier we met with several middle school teachers. The teachers became excited and enthusiastic after hearing about the week-long Bach Festival schedule of events.”
Reynolds said the teachers helped develop the program. Students will be bussed to First United Methodist Church for the program. Parents will receive permission slips regarding the Bach program in the fall.
Stephenson will also present “The Life and Times of J.S. Bach” at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30. It will feature a lecture and a performance on the harpsichord.
“The program is free to anyone in the community,” Reynolds said. “A potluck dinner will be held on site between the after-school program and evening program.”
She hopes families meet their children at First United Methodist Church, eat and attend the evening program together.
A second after-school program is planned for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
“Bach’s Fight for Freedom,” will be screened, followed by a discussion.
The film tells the story of Bach’s struggles with his patron, Duke Wilhem, as seen through the eyes of his 10-year-old assistant. The soundtrack features the Brandenburg Concertos using Baroque-era instruments.
Transportation and refreshments will be provided.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, Trinity Lutheran Church will host a Bach Concert.
Featuring organist William Weinmann, the concert will present several area church choirs which will showcase Bach’s sacred music in a free, community concert.
Bach Around the Clock will be an open mic performance starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Little Fat Gretchen’s Cafe on Main Street, across from the library.
“Local music teachers, music studios and performing art directors have been brought on board to get the word out,” Reynolds said. “Come and play a Bach tune on piano, organ, strings, vocals, brass, kazoo, accordion or other instrument, without the pressure of a formal recital, and with the goal of having fun with classical music.”
The festival will close at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, with “Bach’s Greatest Hits” at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Pianist Nell Buchman, a teacher at Lawrence University and music director at St. Mark’s, will be joined by Stacey Berk, an oboe player and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The concert will be followed by a reception with Baroque food and drink, served by volunteers in period costumes.
Ticket information will be available later.
For more information about how to become involved, either as a donor, a musician or a volunteer, contact Reynolds at 715-258-0709.