The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Wisconsin Public Radio to hold 2nd annual “Bach Around the Clock” marathon concert on March 19 to mark Johann Sebastian’s birthday | February 24, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s time to get out those scores and start practicing.

Wisconsin Public Radio and the Pres House are teaming up again to offer the second annual “Bach Around the Clock” marathon concert. Can’t you just dig the Warhol-like poster that suggests a watch face (12, 3, 6 and 9):

It will be held from noon to midnight on Saturday, March 19, at the Pres House, 731 State St., which has a good organ, a fine piano and a nicely intimate performance space (below). Last year, snacks and refreshments were also available for free in the nearby cafeteria.

The purpose of the event is to mark the birthday (March 21, 1685) of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach, who died at 65 on July 28, 1750 is generally conceded to be the greatest composer of all time and the one who most affected the future path of Western classical music.

The organizer of the event, and the person who inaugurated the event based on a similar event in her native New Orleans, is Cheryl Dring (below). Dring hosts the “Morning Classics” program on WPR from 9 to 11 a.m. each weekday morning. She is also the music director of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Here is my account of it last year, complete with a lot of photos:

Once again, Drink is calling on all kinds of musicians to take part in the celebratory event.

Last year, the performers included professionals like Trevor Stephenson and the Madison Bach Musicians and violinist Edith Hines and some church organists and choirs. Others who took part included elementary, middle and high school students as well as UW students and faculty members and amateurs from the community. One of my favorites was saxophonist Marc Mayes performing a transcribed solo cello suite:

Several local piano teachers made the event a kind of class or studio project, a good way to practice performing in front of a very friendly, supportive and enthusiastic but small audience.

The performances — which are NOT broadcast on the radio — were also webcast live to the rest of the state in real time. Dring told the Ear she is trying to arrange that again, but I have had no final word about this year.

It was a lot of fun last year, both to play in and to listen to – though I do not have new Bach to offer this year. Last year’s official logo was also playful and captures the spirit of the event.

But it may be more difficult to organize this year because of the timing. That week is also Spring Break for the University of Wisconsin, if not also some public schools.

For more information or to book a time slot, visit the site below and contact Dring on the following page:

You can also email Dring at:

What do you think of Bach Around the Clock last year?

Did you take part or listen?

What did you think?

Will you take part in or listen to BATC-2 this year?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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