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The 2009 Baldwin-Wallace Bach Festival

March 18, 2009 | By Margaret Swendseid
Coordinator, Bach Festival
BEREA, OH … Few experiences in life enable us to transcend the everyday world. Sitting on the expansive lawn of the Gothic-style Marting Hall on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College, on a luscious day in spring, and listening to a brass choir trumpeting Bach, literally, to the heavens: this is one of those magnificent times.

And this is the Brass Choir that so gloriously ushers in the Bach Festival at Baldwin-Wallace every year. For 77 years, the Baldwin-Wallace Bach Festival has inspired the imagination, passion and intellect of scholars and music lovers the world over. The oldest collegiate Bach festival in America was founded in 1932 by music educator Albert Riemenschneider and his wife Selma. The couple had a noble mission: to enrich the lives of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio residents by bringing the world’s greatest Bach soloists to the stage of Baldwin-Wallace College, while offering the school’s Conservatory students in voice and instruments an unparalleled opportunity to experience the highest performance standards of their day.

Albert and Selma succeeded. To this day, the annual Baldwin-Wallace Bach Festival has come to symbolize artistic and academic excellence. Christmas in April

As Albert conceived it, the festival would rotate Bach’s four major works – the B-minor Mass, the St. John Passion, the St. Matthew Passion and the Christmas Oratorio – every four years in sequence.

Much to the joy of audiences, the 2009 Bach Festival showcases the Christmas Oratorio, composed in 1734. Rich in cantatas, the glorious Oratorio was originally planned to take place over the 12 days of Christmas.

“One of the strengths of our Bach Festival is that our students and faculty have the opportunity to perform with internationally recognized soloists,” says Conservatory Director Peter Landgren. Such premier Bach soloists – Tamara Matthews, soprano; Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano; Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; and Christòpheren Nomura, baritone – will command the stage at Baldwin-Wallace this year.

“This year we also are pleased to look no further than Severance Hall for international stars who perform with The Cleveland Orchestra,” adds Landgren.

World-renowned Bach scholar Robert Marshall, professor emeritus of music at Brandeis University, will present a lecture, free and open to the public, on the Christmas Oratorio.

At the helm is Dwight Oltman, Festival Music Director and Conductor, who celebrates his 34th year leading the Bach celebration. Other noted Bach Festival participants are Baldwin-Wallace's Dirk Garner, Director of Choral Activities and Conductor of the Motet and College choirs; and Mel Unger, Conductor of the B-W Singers and Director of the world-renowned Riemenschneider Bach Institute. The Festival will feature members of acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra, the Opera Cleveland Orchestra, the Baldwin-Wallace Festival Brass Choir, College Choir and Motet Choir and the Festival Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Chatham Baroque and C.O.5. ensembles.

For media inquiries, please contact: Helen Rathburn, Associate Director of College Relations, at 440/826-2322, tel., or via email at hrathbur@bw.edu.

For more information about the Festival, go to: www.bw.edu/bachfest, or contact Margaret Swendseid, Coordinator, Bach Festival, at 440/826-8070, tel., or via email at mswendse@bw.edu.

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