In celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 339th birthday, Blue Hill Bach will present a concert at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 22, at St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill. In “Organ and Clavichord: Companions for Centuries,” the distinguished Bangor keyboard virtuoso Kevin Birch will explore the intimate colors of three exquisite copies of clavichords from the mid-17th through late 18th centuries, along with St. Francis Church’s magnificent Karl Wilhelm tracker organ.
The most popular domestic keyboard instrument of the Baroque era, the clavichord was prized for its delicacy and expressive range. Dr. Birch’s program, which will begin with a discussion and demonstration of the instruments’ mechanisms as well as their importance to Bach and his contemporaries, will feature music of Johann Jakob Froberger, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Kevin Birch has performed solo recitals in the US, Canada, Europe, and in South America, and for national conventions of the Organ Historical Society. He is especially devoted to the many fine historic organs in Maine on which he enjoys frequent opportunities to study and perform.
Dr. Birch is also devoted to the art of the clavichord – an instrument long associated with the organ, especially in Germany and Scandinavia – and is a member of the Dutch Clavichord Society, the German Clavichord Society and the Boston Clavichord Society. Recent projects include solo clavichord recitals for the German Clavichord Society in Cologne, Germany, the Boston Clavichord Society, and lectures/recitals on “The Clavichord and the Organ: Companions for Centuries” at the Eastman School of Music and at Oberlin Conservatory.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Kevin Birch back to help celebrate Bach’s birthday,” says Blue Hill Bach Executive Director Marcia Gronewold Sly. “The program he’s bringing to Blue Hill will give audience members of all ages a unique opportunity to hear a group of very special instruments, and to gain an appreciation for the more private side of Bach’s musical life.”
Blue Hill Bach was founded in 2011 with the mission of presenting historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that explore vocal and instrumental music of the Baroque and other repertoire that demonstrates the place of Baroque music in music history. Under the direction of Stephen Hammer, Artistic Director, Blue Hill Bach draws upon musicians from Maine, greater New England, and across the U.S. who are specialists in Baroque performance practice. Players in the ensemble perform on original period instruments or replicas, creating a sound that is faithful to the composers’ intent.
The 2024 Bach’s birthday concert, which marks the beginning of Blue Hill Bach’s 14th season, will be at St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, 330 Hinckley Ridge Road, Blue Hill. Audience members will not be required to wear masks, but are asked to test before attending, and to stay at home if they are experiencing any Covid or flu symptoms. Admission is $25 general/$10 students/under 18 free. For tickets and information, go to www.bluehillbach.org or call Blue Hill Bach at (207)613-5454.