Welcome to the Washington Bach Consort

The Nation’s Premier Baroque Chorus and Orchestra

Upcoming Events

Brandenburg ConcertosNov 11 2007 3:00P Harman Center for the Arts
Noontime Cantata Dec 4 2007 12:10P Church of the Epiphany
30th Anniversary CelebrationDec 7 2007 6:00PMansion at Strathmore
Christmas OratorioDec 7 2007 8:00P Music Center at Strathmore

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Interview with J. Reilly Lewis

Robert Massey: You founded the Consort with a group of friends that loved performing. No one was paid and the entire operation was housed in your mother’s basement. Now the fully-professional ensemble includes the best singers and period instrumentalists in the nation, performs in Washington’s most desirable performance venues and there is not only an office, but a full support staff in place as well. Did you ever imagine the ensemble reaching this level?

Reilly Lewis: I never doubted the strength of the Bach Consort’s mission or the devotion of its players and audience. The whole endeavor was driven by, as we say so often, an "irrepressible urge" to live in and through the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

I also never dreamed I'd have the great honor of performing all of Bach's more than 200 cantatas. In addition to the joy and sense of achievement these past thirty years embody, the recent acquisition of our printed and recorded archives by the Library of Congress is a particular source of pride.

RM: Thirty years! Congratulations. How did you go about programming this special anniversary season?

RL: The season might as well have been entitled "Bach's Tops" or "Bach's Greatest Hits"! Since we have performed all of his choral and orchestral music, it seemed a natural to celebrate this significant anniversary year by presenting some of the major "Bachbusters" in both of the prestigious venues we now call home: the Music Center at Strathmore where we’ll perform the B-Minor Mass, Christmas Oratorio, and St. Matthew Passion, and the Harman Center for the Arts, where we’ll kick things off with the Brandenburg Concertos.

RM: Are there any works that you have wanted to perform with the Consort but haven’t?

RL: Not by Bach, however, there is a vast wealth of repertoire by his contemporaries (Hasse, Biber, Telemann, Stoelzel, Buxtehude, etc. etc.). There are also wonderful composers from the earlier Baroque like Schein, Schuetz, Schelle (try to say that fast!), Praetorius, Hammerschmidt, Rosenmueller and all of Bach's predecessors in the post of Thomaskantor. And these are just some of the German possibilities. The French, Italian, Belgian, English, Dutch, Scandanvian (even American to some extend) Baroque repertoire is ripe for the picking.

RM: I can only imagine the stories surrounding thirty years with this ensemble, what’s your favorite Consort moment?

RL: I know this sounds corny, and I could certainly conjure up some salient anecdotes of great (or not so great) moments in our long history, but for me the best and favorite moments are when we're "in the moment" making glorious music together, a collegial fellowship of performers and listeners celebrating the Joy of Bach.

RM: Any parting words for your audience?

RL: Hoch lebe Bach...Long live Bach!

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