The Cal Poly Music Department will present Bach Week Tuesday through Sunday, Jan. 17-22, with presentations and performances on campus, in Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and in Santa Barbara.
Faculty members Thomas Davies and David Arrivée established Bach in the Mission in 2011 as an annual collaborative concert that would give Cal Poly student musicians the opportunity to rehearse and perform the vocal and instrumental music of Johann Sebastian Bach with faculty members and local professionals. It became a weeklong event in 2015 to complement the annual concert.
Bach Week features a range of events, including a chamber music performance on period instruments, collaborative performances of large vocal and instrumental works by students and professionals, a master class, and a guest lecture or “Akademie.” The free demonstrations and lectures provide additional context for the performances.
The first event, “Inside Bach Week,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in Room 218 of the Davidson Music Center (No. 45) on campus. Davies and Arrivée will take a look at the week’s repertoire in the context of Bach’s life and, in the case of the cantata, as it functioned in the religious context of the Lutheran church year. Musical examples and some German will be included.
At 11:10 a.m. Jan. 19 in Room 218 in the Davidson Music Center, early music specialists David Wilson, violin, and Paul Hale, cello, will give a master class focusing on the musical interpretation of Baroque string music. Several Cal Poly students will present works to be discussed.
An addition to Bach Week is the “Akademie” lecture series. This year’s lecture is “Bach and the Enlightenment,” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in Room 218 in the Davidson Music Center. The lecture will explore Bach’s life and music in the context of the Enlightenment. Musical discussion will focus on Bach’s “Musical Offering,” part of which will be performed on Friday’s chamber concert. Philosophy Professor Paul Miklowitz and Arrivée will host this inaugural session.
On Jan. 20, Mensa Sonora California will perform “Bach and the Court of Frederick the Great” at 8 p.m. in Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The concert will include a portion of Bach’s “Musical Offering,” inspired by his visit to the court of King Frederick II of Prussia, and works by composers active at this court, all played on period instruments.
The week will culminate with two performances of works for larger ensembles: the motet “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied,” the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto with Mensa Sonora California artists as soloists, and Cantata 147, “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben,” the source for “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” The first performance, “Bach in the Mission VII,” will take place at 8 p.m. Jan. 21 in Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The second performance, “Bach at Trinity,” will be in Santa Barbara’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 22.
Admission to the campus events is free. Tickets for the concerts in the mission and at Trinity are $20 for premium public and premium student tickets, $15 for the general public, and $10 for general students. Discounts, offered when tickets to both mission concerts are purchased together, are $35 for premium public and premium students, $25 for general public, and $15 for students.
Tickets are sold at the Cal Poly Ticket Office between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To order by phone, call SLO-4TIX (756-4849). To order online, visit tickets.calpoly.edu. Tickets can also be purchased at the door the nights of the concerts.
The events are sponsored by Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts, Music Department, Instructionally Related Activities program and Tevis Fund for Visiting Artists. Additional support is provided by the Handler and Steiner Family Fund.
For more information, visit the Bach Week website at or call the Music Department at 805-756-2406.