Piano Lessons Blog - Bachfest: A Celebration of Bach's 334th Birthday

Bachfest: A Celebration of Bach's 334th Birthday

The great Baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, was born on March 21st, 1685, meaning that this past Thursday was his 334th birthday. For several years now, the Brigham Young University School of Music has celebrated his birthday by participating in the "Bach in the Subways" project. This movement began in 2010, when cellist Dale Henderson began performing Bach's cello suites in the subway. He felt classical music was on the decline only because many people are not at all exposed to it, and he wanted to change that. Then, on March 21st, 2011, Dale invited other performers to join him in performing Bach's music in public places. Since then, the movement has grown so that thousands of musicians in at least 40 countries participate every March 21st by performing the Baroque composer's music in public places. If you would like to learn more about Bach in the Subways, you can do so here.

BYU has participated in this project by organizing student performances of Bach's music all over campus every March 21st. The piano program at BYU heads up the event, called "Bachfest," but enlists the talents of all other music majors. While still a piano major at BYU, I helped with the planning and carrying out of this project for a few years. It was a lot of work scheduling space in different buildings on campus, recruiting performers, and overseeing performances, but it was also so fun to walk across Brigham Square and hear an organ (yes, an organ) being played in the middle of the square, or to see people pause and listen to Bach's Chaconne for violin on their way to get lunch at the Museum of Art Cafe.

This past Thursday was my first Bachfest in which I did not participate as a BYU student. It was kind of sad to not be in on the planning and organizing of the event, but thankfully, BYU chose to expand this effort this year by inviting members of the community, including young piano students of teachers in the area, to come play works by Bach on campus. Excited by this prospect, I prepared Bach's Prelude in F Minor from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier and performed it in the Tanner Building at BYU. And so I still got to celebrate this wig-wearing composer's birthday in my preferred way by both listening to and performing his music in a random building on campus. And of course, I shared the knowledge that it was Bach's birthday with friends, family, and especially, with my piano students. By the way, I was not the only teacher from the Utah Piano Conservatory to play at Bachfest. Our assistant director, Lindsay Bastian, and one of our private lesson room teachers, Sidsie Rubow, also performed!

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