School of the Arts

Chico Bach Festival: Three Wonder Filled Days of Bach

2019 Chico Bach Festival Filled with Performances and Opportunities to Learn

The 2019 Chico Bach Festival is excited to welcome the Sinfonia Spirituosa Baroque Orchestra and organists Annette Richards and David Yearsley as part of the festival. The event will take place March 7–10 on the California State University, Chico campus.

“We are excited for their concerts as well as their workshops, masterclasses, and lectures. We also have a very special treat this year—Bach’s Coffee Cantata, with complementary coffee from Six Degrees Coffee,” said David Scholz, coordinator and Department of Music and Theatre faculty member.

The festival kicks off with a performance of the Coffee Cantata in the Performing Arts Center courtyard on Thursday, March 7 at 3 p.m. This short work, featuring vocalists Dara Scholz and Ryan Downey, takes a satirical look at the relationship between father and daughter, and the love that the daughter has for her daily cup of coffee. Will she choose marriage over the addictive drink or turn away all suitors for her hand? This is a free performance with complementary “cups of joe” for attendees.

A free masterclass by organists Annette Richards and David Yearsley of Cornell University takes place on the stage of Harlen Adams Theatre on Saturday, March 9 from 11 a.m.–1 p.m., and free masterclasses and lessons by the members of the Sinfonia Spirituosa will occur from 1–3 p.m. in the Zingg Recital Hall, the Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall, and Performing Arts Center, Room 132.

Following the masterclasses is a free lecture by organist and musicologist David Yearsley titled Bach Laughs in the Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall at 3 p.m. No composer’s image is sterner than Johann Sebastian Bach’s. Yet, his early admirers painted a more varied picture of the composer. Indeed, they went out of their way to applaud his comic talents.

“This lecture takes a fresh look at, and listens to, the first Brandenburg Concerto (among other works), attending to the piece’s bizarre and brilliant musical ideas and gestures,” Scholz said.

The Sinfonia Spirituosa with one member sitting in front of a piano

The Sinfonia Spirituosa presents the concert The Spirit of Improvisation on Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Zingg Recital Hall. Dedicated to presenting bold, historically informed performances on period instruments, their unique and varied instrumentation allows for programming that displays an astonishingly wide variety of national styles. Tickets are available at the University Box Office or at the door.

“Through vibrant, collegial exchange, [the Sinfonia Spirituosa] aspire to faithfully bring to life the broad spectrum of color, affect, and rhetoric inherent in the music of the Baroque era,” Scholz said.

Organists Annette Richards and David Yearsley of Cornell University, currently in residence at Stanford University, conclude the festival with their organ recital Bach and Sons on Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. on the stage of Harlen Adams Theatre. Johann Sebastian Bach was the greatest—and one of the most prolific—organists of his, or perhaps any other time. A few of his sons also left behind pieces of organ music, as they were also renowned players. This program on the Centennial Organ brings together two generations of Bachs, paring masterpieces by the father with works by the sons. Tickets are available at the University Box Office or at the door.

Ticketed events are priced at $15 adults, $13 seniors, and $6 students and youth. Tickets are available to purchase at CSU, Chico’s University Box Office, or by calling 530-898-6333.

For those who need special seating accommodations, please call 530-898-6333. More information is available online at the School of the Arts website and Facebook page.

“This is perhaps the most spectacular lineup of performances, masterclasses and lectures presented on the Chico Bach Festival in the decade or so that I have served as director of the festival,” said Scholz. “I hope that people take the opportunity to attend some or all of the various offerings of the festival this year.”

Additional Information

CSU, Chico’s School of the Arts will present the Chico Bach Festival: Three Wonder Filled Days of Bach.” This will take place Thursday, March 7-10, and will include a series of concerts and workshops.

Now retired Chico State professor Dr. David Rothe created the Chico Bach Festival in 2003. He had support from the HFA Dean Dr. Donald Heinz, the music department chair Alfred Loeffler, and the music director faculty, especially Dr. Jeffery Gemmell who was the University choral director at the time.

The Chico Bach Festival was created to give music lovers of the University and North State the chance to hear the music of Bach (and other amazing composers) performed in the most authentic and convincing manner as possible. Audiences also have a unique opportunity a to hear from internationally known Bach experts.

The Bach Festival came to CSU, Chico when Christoph Wolff told Rothe and the faculty of his discovery of hundreds of Bach manuscripts from the Berlin Sing Akadamie that were lost during World War II. These manuscripts were re-discovered in a library basement in Kiev, Ukraine by Dr. Wolff and his graduate students at Harvard University. It took over a year to plan the very first Chico Bach Festival. In order to put on this event, Rothe had to overcome many obstacles.

“It was challenging, even daunting, to try to put on something that has not been done before. Funding was an obvious hurdle. We applied for, and received, visiting professor grants. Music students sought (and got) funding support from the Associated Students. And both the Dean’s Office and the music department supported the event. Donations and door receipts provided a substantial part of the costs,” Rothe said.

Despite the stress of planning the event, Rothe still enjoyed the work. “Favorite memory…performing the West Coast premiere of one of the newly recovered works and having the world’s greatest Bach scholar introduce our performance. Also, listening to Professor Wolff's lectures about the search and discovery of the missing and rediscovered Berlin Sing Akademie Collection,” Rothe said.