The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Saturday is your chance to celebrate J.S. Bach’s birthday for 12 hours

March 18, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

JUST A REMINDER: Wisconsin Public Radio and the Pres House are teaming up again to offer the second annual “Bach Around the Clock” marathon concert.

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

And like last year, a cake will be served around midnight to celebrate the Birthday Boy.

The purpose of the event is to mark the birthday (March 21, 1685) of Johann Sebastian Bach (below), 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 at a church 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:

Once again, Dring, in her remarkably upbeat and friendly radio voice, made a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for Wisconsin Public Radio that called on all kinds of musicians — professionals, amateurs and students — to take part in the celebratory event.

Last year, the performers included professionals like keyboardist Trevor Stephenson and the Madison Bach Musicians (below) and baroque 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.

Several local piano teachers made the event a kind of class or studio project.

This year, it is more difficult to round up musicians because of the UW Spring Break, Dring says. Nonetheless, she has got a program that includes keyboardist and Madison Bach Musicians founder and director Trevor Stephenson (performing from 5-6 p.m.) and baroque violinist Edith Hines (below) who will kick things off at noon with solo violin works including the famous, beautiful and difficult Chaconne.

The performances were also webcast 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 and to listen – though I do not have new Bach to offer this year. I hope to next year.

This  year’s official logo is Warhol playful.

For more information or to book a time slot, visit the site below and contact Dring on the following page. I imagine even last-minute offers might l be accepted and fit into the schedule:

You can also email Dring at:

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

Did you take part of listen?

What did you think of this year’s party?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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