Bach in Havana: Tiempo Libre in the 2010 Gala Concert

The music of Bach translates easily into musical languages he scarcely could have imagined as he toiled in his study and the choir loft.  Countless composers have found much value in tinkering with his music, which is as it should be.  Young Bach is thought to have learned his compositional craft, in part, by copying the works of master composers in his own hand.  As he matured as a musician and composer, this practice continued.  He adapted the music of Vivaldi into his organ concertos, and took Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, added an independent viola part and a German libretto based on Psalm 51, and this became known as Cantata No. 1038 (Those who attended the 2010 Bethlehem Bach Festival will recognize the Stabat Mater from the Friday night concerts in gorgeously-rendered performances by the Bach Festival Orchestra, Daniel Taylor and Agnes Zsigovics).   Composers as diverse as Brahms, Webern and Barber have adapted, reorchestrated, and otherwise re-imagined Bach’s music.  A few years ago, the great percussionist She-e Wu performed her own transcription of the G-Major Cello Suite on the marimba before an awestruck and rapt audience at Bach at Noon.  Bethlehem audiences have also enjoyed performances of Dave Brubeck and Donal Fox, translating Bach’s music into a jazz idiom (in the great tradition of the Modern Jazz Quartet and the Swingle Singers).   With all of this fertile exploration of Bach’s music and its influence since its inception, it was high time for Bach to come back to us wearing sunglasses, with a mojito in hand.

The Miami-based, Grammy-nominated timba band, Tiempo Libre, have combined their conservatory education with their deep connection with the music of their Cuban homeland, to bring us an exciting, tropics-inflected Bach, and the Zoellner Arts Center will be ablaze with their brilliance at the 2010 Bach Choir Gala on November 13th.

Here’s a great YouTube with an introduction to the band and the music that will be performed at the Gala:


For this gala event, the Bach Choir has partnered with Ricardo Viera, the director of the Lehigh University Art Galleries, who has curated a special exhibition of Latin American art, which can be seen in the main gallery at Zoellner.  Likewise, we’ve formed a partnership with the Hispanic-American League of Artists, who will be providing dancers to to add to the zest of the evening (a dance floor will be available at the front of the hall for those unable to resist the powerful call of timba music).  The announcement of Tiempo Libre as our Gala artists for this year has inspired the collective imagination of the organization, which has reached far beyond its usual constituencies.  The Gala is going to be an amazing evening of music, dancing, visual art and the fellowship of so many who support the Bach Choir.  Further information can be found on the Bach Choir site.  Please join us for what promises to be an evening to remember!

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