School of the Arts

Chico Bach Festival: Three Wonder Filled Days of Bach

CSU, Chico’s School of the Arts will present the Chico Bach Festival: Three Wonder Filled Days of Bach.” This will take place Friday–Sunday, March 20–22.

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.