Organ & Clavichord: Companions for Centuries

Ready for a evening of quiet music as it might have been enjoyed in the inner chambers of a late 17th-Century household? In celebration of J.S. Bach’s 339th birthday, Blue Hill Bach will present “Organ and Clavichord: Companions for Centuries,” with the distinguished Bangor keyboard virtuoso Kevin Birch.  Dr. Birch will take the audience on a journey of musical discovery performing keyboard music of the 17th and 18th Centuries on clavichords by Martin Kather (Hamburg – 2020) after Praetorius (1621) and Jeremy Adams (Danvers, MA – 1996) after Manuel de Sousa Carniero (1796), along with the church’s Karl Wilhelm Baroque tracker organ.

The most popular domestic keyboard instrument of the Baroque era, the clavichord was and is to this day 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 Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, 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.  The core of Blue Hill Bach’s programming is a week-long summer festival, scheduled for July 14-20, 2024, that presents Baroque music and dance in venues throughout the Blue Hill peninsula. Audience favorites are Bach’s Lunch, a lecture-demonstration by festival music director John Finney and members of the ensemble, and the Baroque Café, a program of secular music presented along with a picnic dinner in the barn of a working farm. Each year, an emerging artist who shows promise in early music performance and scholarship is chosen as the Marville Young Artist Fellow. Fellows are frequently invited back as ensemble members, and many have gone on to major careers.

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.  . Admission is $25 general/$10 students/under 18 free. For tickets and information, go to or call Blue Hill Bach at (207)613-5454.

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