Walter Bitner

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BACHanalia 2019

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Nashville’s 13th annual Bach festival – our beloved BACHanalia – will be held:

Friday, March 29, 2019 from 4 – 10 pm
Christ Church Cathedral
900 Broadway in downtown Nashville.

This event is one of the highlights of the musical year in Music City.

A broad spectrum of musicians from our unique community come together at this time each year to present this one-of-a-kind six-hour concert-without-pause devoted to Sebastian’s music, generously hosted by our friends at the cathedral in their beautiful sanctuary.

For the last several years I’ve had the privilege of learning of the program and schedule ahead of the event and voila! here it is. It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by.

For the uninitiated (those who have not attended before):

  • Admission is free!
  • Come for the entire event, or come and go as you wish (see the schedule below for this year’s selections).
  • Delicious homemade food will be available for minimal cost. These refreshments will be served and consumed in the church’s parish hall, where the concert is piped in so that patrons can grab a bite to eat without missing any of the music.
  • As in years past, BACHanalia 2019 t-shirts will be available for sale, featuring this year’s logo (above and below).
  • The music is presented continuously, alternating between two performance spaces: the chancel and the choir loft, so there is no “dead” time between sets.

It is one long, glorious, eclectic, paean of devotion to Sebastian’s music, and there is no other event like it in Nashville.

BACHanalia features both traditional – “mainstream” classical as well as historical performance – interpretations of Sebastian’s music alongside unusual or even radical settings or instrumentations. This year’s concert includes music drawn from a broad spectrum of Sebastian’s works: cantatas, cantatas, cantatas; the B minor Mass and St. John Passion; concerti and orchestral suites; chamber works including those for violin, cello, flute; the harpsichord and organ literature. Usual and unusual instrumental combinations abound.

Musicians and ensembles participating this year include members of the Nashville Symphony, Parthenon Chamber Orchestra, Franklin Chamber Orchestra, the “Bach Double” Orchestra (Suzuki students), Early Music City, Opera on Tap, Portara Ensemble, Avila Soul, Bassoonery, Davich Clarinet Choir, Harpistry Plus, Sound Riot; faculty from local universities, organists from area churches, and many other members of the Nashville musical community.

performing The Italian Concerto at BACHanalia 2018 ~ photo by Kelley Bell

I am taking a break this year after several years in a row of participating – at this point I’ve performed seven times at five of these wonderful evenings, beginning with a performance with three of my students at BACHanalia 2008: we played three selections from The Art of the Fugue as Music City Recorder Quartet at that BACHanalia, eleven years ago! Since that second BACHanalia I’ve been fortunate to participate as choir director; in chamber and orchestral settings as lutenist, harpsichordist, and on recorder; and as a soloist on piano and again, recorder. Each of these experiences has been special, memorable. I am grateful to everyone who makes this beautiful event possible.

Thank you:

  • to the musicians of Nashville for this tremendous event
  • to Christ Church Cathedral for hosting it every year
  • to all of the volunteers who make it possible.

Especially – If you see them – please take a moment to express your gratitude to Susan Dupont, Joel Treybig, Carolyn Treybig, and everyone else who has contributed to nurturing, organizing, and producing this unique, beloved annual event for thirteen years now. We are so fortunate.

Here’s a synopsis of the schedule, which is not quite complete yet and subject to change. As I learn about corrections or updates I will make them below.


4 pm

Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106, transcr. Grandjany
Carol McClure, harp

Adagio from Concerto in D minor after Alessandro Marcello, BWV 974, transcr. Shafer
Amy Shafer, harp

Bist du bei mir, BWV 508, transcr. Ramsay and McClure
Wes Ramsay, trombone
Carol McClure and Amy Shafer, harps

Harpistry Plus: The Harp School Faculty Ensemble
Carol McClure, Artistic Director

Two chorale preludes on Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr:
BWV 717BWV 664
Michael Gebhart, organ

Air from Orchestral Suite in D, BWV 1068
Davich Clarinet Choir:
Matt Davich, Cassandra Lee, Katy Coffer, Max Dvorin, clarinets
Robby Shankle, bass clarinet
Brad Bietry, piano

Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008
Alexis Lee, cello

Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not from Cantata BWV 21
Opera on Tap:
Kristine Phillips, soprano
Jennifer McGuire, piano


5 pm

Toccata in F# minor, BWV 910
Evan Booher, piano

Concerto for two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Bach Double Orchestra
Toni Ferguson, director

Toccata and Fugue in d minor, BWV 565
Joseph O’Berry, organ

Ich weiss dass mein Erlöser lebt, Cantata BWV 160
Cory Colton, tenor
Jennifer McGuire, piano

(BWV 160 is actually by Sebastian’s friend Telemann – it’s 1:877 in the TWV – but was misattributed by the compilers of the BWV because they found a copy in Sebastian’s handwriting. He had written it out in order to perform it at his church job in Leipzig. ~ WB)

Ich folge dir gleichfalls from St. John’s Passion, BWV 245
Opera on Tap:
Stephanie Jabre, soprano
Jennifer McGuire, piano


6 pm

Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Maria Romero, baroque violin

Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009
Bourrée I and II
Mattie Brister, baroque cello

Trio Sonata in G for Two Transverse Flutes, BWV 1039
Allegro ma non presto
Jessica Dunnavant and Sheri Hoffmann, baroque flutes

Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen, Cantata BWV 175
Recitativo: Er rufet seinen Schafen
Aria: Komm, leite mich
Chorale: Nun, werter Geist, ich folg dir
Early Music City:
Patrick Dailey, countertenor
Jessica Dunnavant & Sheri Hoffmann, baroque flutes
Maria Romero, baroque violin
Mattie Brister, baroque cello
Francis Perry, lute/continuo

Schübler Chorales
Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 647
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
Michael Velting, organ

Partita for Solo Violin No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004
reharmonized for contemporary String Quintet, arr. Melanie Joy Alvey
Avila Soul String Quartet:
Melanie Joy Alvey, Bobby Chase, violins
Nicole Neeley, viola
Kaitlyn Raitz, cello
Quentin Flowers, bass

Quia Respixit from Magnificat, BWV 243

Opera on Tap:
Karen Dumont, soprano
Meagan Prewitt, oboe
Jennifer McGuire, piano


7 pm

Liebster Jesus, mein Verlangen from Cantata BWV32
Claire Boling, soprano
Adeline Carter, oboe
Roger Wiesmeyer, piano

Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen from Cantata BWV51
Opera on Tap:
Emily Packard, soprano
Jennifer McGuire, piano

Concerto in D minor for two violins and chamber orchestra, BWV 1043
Largo, ma non tanto
Franklin Chamber Orchestra:
Paul Johnian, violin solo
Hannah Chen, violin solo
Diana Cuellar, Deborah Debora Cahoon,Julie Hatfield, Ni Li, violins
Terry C. Terry, Tami Hutton, violas
Alice Lloyd, Greg Bailey, cellos

Brandenburg Concerto No.2 in F major, BWV 1047
Allegro assai
Michael Arndt, trumpet
Ann Richards, flute
David Johnson, violin
Bonnie Farr, oboe
Parthenon Chamber Orchestra
David Sartor, conductor


8 pm

Allegro from Concerto in A minor, BWV 593 after Vivaldi R522
Sinfonia from Wir danken dir, Gott, BWV 29, arr. S. Drummond Wolff
Gayle Sullivan, organ

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, arr. Cristina Spinei
Sheep may Safely Graze from Cantata BWV208, arr. Emily Tyndall
Prelude 1/Gounod Ave Maria BWV 846, arr. Enrique Igsa
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, BWV 147, arr. Jose Jesus de Azevedo Souza
Sound Riot:
Emily Tyndall, clarinet
Amber Thruman, piano
Cristina Spinei, composer
Liz Kitts, violin
Maggie Chafee, cello

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
Anthony Williams, organ

Quoniam tu solus sanctus from Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Pat Gunter, Kate Affainie, Wilson Sharpe, Harold Skelton, Andrew Witherington, bassoons


9 pm

Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541
Nara Lee, organ

Sonata in E minor, BWV 1034
Adagio ma non tanto
Allegro assai
Carolyn Treybig, flute
Alexis Lee, cello
Andrew Risinger, harpsichord

O Lamm Gottes, BWV 618
O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross, BWV 622
Matt Phelps, organ

Nun Danket Alle Gott from BWV 79
Alleluia from BWV 142
Joel Treybig, Kyle Matthees, trumpets
Soren Allen, Greg Swanson, trombones
Andrew Risinger, organ

Vor deinen Thron tret‘ ich, BWV 668, ed. Patrick Dunnevant
Portara Ensemble:
Jason Shelton, artistic director
Patrick Dunnevant, conductor and assistant director


*       *       *


Our Friend Sebastian:

Our Friend Sebastian

The Brandenburg Concertos


Martin & Sebastian

The Italian Concerto

Bach on the Lute: 70 Years of Recordings, Part I


Sebastian’s Music in Nashville:

BACHanalia 2016

BACHanalia 2017

BACHanalia 2018

BACHanalia 2019

Christmas Oratorio at West End United Methodist


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