I would like to congratulate Choral Arts Philadelphia and The Bach Festival of Philadelphia for launching the brilliant Bach Cantata Series this 2013-2014 season! In the first half of the run, the series has already generated a lot of interest among the Philadelphia audiences, musicians and the media.
Named "Bach at Seven" (or Bach@7 for short), the programs take place at the historical Saint Mark's Church near Rittenhouse Square (17th & Locust Streets) and feature a Bach cantata and other related music of any historic period. This could be a choral piece and/or an instrumental or organ work.
Each program (there are six offered this season in the series) lasts only one hour, including a live commentary by artistic director Matthew Glandorf. This is followed by a free informal post-concert reception for all, a chance to recharge with a light snack and fine wine, have a good conversation and build some meaningful personal connections. Combined with the "pay-as-you-wish" admission option and the timing of the programs (7 pm on a Wednesday night), these events have opened doors to some new audience demographics, including families with children, students, young professionals, and other folks who normally wouldn't attend a classical music concert.
In addition, this is a unique chance for the Philadelphia public to hear some shorter choral, vocal or instrumental gems of all styles and periods, that are rarely or almost never performed in live concerts just because they are so hard to program into a larger concert setting. As a singer with the group myself, I feel grateful for this season as it has been an exciting personal journey of discovering and learning some beautiful and challenging works by Hugo Distler, Charles Stanford, Orlando Gibbons, Bob Chilcott and more... and of course, by J.S. Bach himself.
All the Bach@7 post-concert receptions are generously sponsored by the Moore Brothers Wine Company (based in Pennsauken, NJ), with Mr. Greg Moore himself happily serving some of his finest wine samples to the attendees. Additionally, the February program is sponsored by Hold-A-Plate, recently founded by a University of Pennsylvania young designer John Zax.
THIS IS WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT BACH@7:
- In this brief video (produced by PR Perfect), the audience members were asked to share their thoughts about the inaugural program in October 2013:
- WRTI's Susan Lewis sat down with Matt Glandorf for an interview about his idea behind the series - check out their 10-minute conversation.
- WHYY's NewsWorks reporter Peter Crimmins praises Bach@7 for attracting younger audiences in this feature piece.
- "Wonderful idea - and cosmopolitan. How often, when visiting major European cities, do you discover early-evening classical concerts offering a good dose of music without monopolizing your evening?.. The idea's time has come. St. Mark's Church was close to full (Glandorf expressed surprise) and the reception was warm, possibly indulgent..." (The Philadelphia Inquirer, by David Patrick Stearns)
- "Glandorf describes the one hour Bach@7 concerts as an “Art Break.” The post-concert reception adds the perfect finishing touch, complete with some notably delectable wines, provided by a local wine merchant who offers his wares with the same enthusiasm that Bach lavishes on counterpoint. Bach would have fitted easily into this scene— mingling with his audience and his fellow musicians in the same way Glandorf and his musicians joined the party..." (Broad Street Review, by Tom Purdom)
- "This approach, according to artistic director, Matt Glandorf is designed to encourage as many people as possible to attend the series. This goal was inspired by the large number of citizens of Leipzig, regardless of wealth, who attended the cantata performances back in Bach's time. Is it working? If attendance of other concerts in the series matches the numbers I saw on December 18th, the answer is "yes!"... True to other Choral Arts concerts I've attended, the program was interesting and the performance quality was very high..." (Examiner.com, by Sharon Torello)
Newsletter preview of Bach@7 - Spring 2014 (this link expires on March 11, 2014)