Pin It
Favorite

Musical Soulmates 

Publisher's Note

click to enlarge art19047.jpg

He was born into a musical family; his own kids even became great musicians. He was blessed with a tireless curiosity and versatility that enabled epic works of art. He taught his whole life, leaving a legacy both wide and deep. Yes, that briefly describes Johann Sebastian Bach, perhaps the essential musician in the Western canon and the man we celebrate every year during the Northwest Bach Festival.

But it also describes Gunther Schuller, the musical genius (according to the MacArthur Foundation) who will finish his 21-year run at the festival helm this weekend. Unlike Bach, Schuller, now 87, has won Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and has a claim to the Academy Award for arranging “The Entertainer” from The Sting.

Bach had to jump around, from Muhlhausen to Leipzig, to get his music from sheet to stage. Schuller’s own musical journey brought him to Spokane starting in the early 1980s. And like those old German towns, we’ve measured our civic pride in a sustained, often improbable effort to help Schuller stage a great festival.

“He has pushed us,” says Verne Windham of Connoisseur Concerts, the organization behind the Bach Festival. “He pushes everybody. For instance, the tenor [Rockland Osgood] said the Cantata [from the March 2 concert] was the hardest thing he’d ever sung. In rehearsal, Gunther tries to explain exactly why a piece needs to go a certain way. He’s always a teacher.”

Music historians think Bach wrote a few motets for his choral students in Leipzig to sing at special weddings and funerals. The motet is a lost form that grew out of Gregorian chants. So it’s fitting that Schuller chose Motet for 40 Voices from the 16th century composer Striggio as a concert finale on Saturday — especially in the fact that the Gonzaga University Chamber Singers will sing it.

Windham thinks the piece has hardly been performed in 400 years. With that eternal music filling a sacred space, you can hear the sweep of history play on. And if you look just right, from behind his mane of white, composer hair, you might even think it’s Bach himself up there conducting. But when he turns around for a final bow, you’ll see: That’s our Gunther. 

Gunther Schuller’s final Northwest Bach Festival continues at St. John’s Cathedral: Saturday, March 9, at 8 pm is Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and his Violin Concerto No. 2; Sunday, March 10, at 3 pm pianist Christopher O’Riley, who is also the host of NPR’s From The Top, will play Bach’s Goldberg Variations; and Sunday, March 24, at 3 pm incoming Northwest Bach Festival Director Zuill Bailey will perform Bach’s complete Suites for Cello. Tickets: $15-$50. Call 325-SEAT.

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • The Landed and the White
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Do Something!
  • Do Something!

    Writers Resist, MLK Day activities and more ways to engage with your community
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • On the Street
  • On the Street

    Will you tip differently because of the minimum wage increase?
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Rally & Unity March

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Rally & Unity March @ Spokane Convention Center

Mon., Jan. 16, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

  • Fake-News Nightmare
  • Fake-News Nightmare

    The social media dream of the 2000s is fading, but we can reset the system by sticking up for the truth
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • BOOKS
  • BOOKS

    From Twin Peaks to the darkest reaches of our galaxy, there's a new book for everyone on your list
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trump wins: America's great state of disconnect
  • Trump wins: America's great state of disconnect

    • Nov 9, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Thanks, Obama

    The legacy of the 44th President goes far beyond the election of the 45th
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

scandal


scandals


Comment


Briefs


green zone


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Tragedy of John Wayne
  • Tragedy of John Wayne

    Why the John Wayne Pioneer Trail is worth saving
    • Oct 29, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation