A Baroque pipe organ

This month will see the debut of a newly completed replica of a 18th Century Gottfried Silbermann Baroque Organ in nearby Port Townsend. The October Candlelight Concert at Trinity UM Church will host guest organist, Woody Bernas, on this 2,000 pipe Baroque Organ which will come alive after many years of work. Works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Dietrich Buxtehude as well as other baroque composers will be performed.

When: 7 PM – October 24, 2013

Where: Trinity United Methodist Church at 609 Taylor St., Port Townsend, Washington

For more info see this link: Trinity Times Newsletter (pages 4 & 5)


Barn acoustics

Did you know that there are over 7 million people living within 100 miles of George Washington Inn & Estate? Imagine how many fans of baroque music live in greater Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria. Is there any reason why a world-class concert venue couldn’t be established on this 10 acre lavender farm with a large acoustical barn that would enhance the beauty of this unique setting? This area has so much to offer with the waterfront, mountains and the Olympic National Park. Why not add a little Bach?

This barn in Allerton, IL seats around 200 people. Listen to another video clip on this Allerton Music Barn Festival link.

Allerton Music Barn Festival

“Allerton has its own magic.  After a concert, standing in the cool, moist air outside the barn, there are no city lights to wash out the night sky.  Several planets shine brightly, and the Milky Way splashes a faint band from tree line to tree line above the clearing around the barn.  People talk quietly about the music, and the crickets continue their concert. The spell lasts longer, and the event puts down roots in your memory.” —Brian Mackey, Heartland Magazine

If you are interested in having a part or participating in the formation of a non-profit for this purpose, contact Dan Abbott at 360-452-5207 or Dewey Ehling at 360-457-4250. If sufficient support is generated for such a project, a matching gift of property needed for its construction will be made.

Additional ideas on barn design:


Young Bach in his day

This young Dutch organist, Gert van Hoef, has amazing talent and has obviously focused over the years on his achievement as an excellent organist. I wonder if this is how Bach was in his youth? When talent is used for God it can accomplish great and lasting achievements. Bach’s focus in music was “Soli Deo Gloria” that drove him to write hundreds of cantatas with a passion that is still felt today. I hope this young man will capture that same vision and seek to bring glory to God alone. What a difference it will make in the days and years ahead!

One person aptly commented, “So young and so gifted …you are a positive inspiration in our confused and disorderly world.”

English Translation:
Lord, You are my life, the ground on which I stand.
Lord, You are my way the truth that leads me.
Your word is the path the road I go
As long as you give my breath as long as I exist,
I would not fear, for you are with me.
Lord, I pray thee, keep me near.

The doctor is in!

J S Bach Reconstructed

Even though Johann Sebastian Bach had a life full of tragedy and heartbreak, his music focused on a joy and peace found not in himself, but in God. Examine his writings and compositions and you will find that his source of life sprung from a well that never ran dry. This wellspring gave him purpose and an ability to cope with the deep sorrow and despair that can come from such circumstances. With the sudden death of his first wife and with the Job-like experiences of losing half of his children in premature deaths, he was able to share a faith and hope through his music that transcended these heart-wrenching tragedies.

Perhaps there is something to be learned from Bach’s life even today. Come along and explore some of his incredible music. The doctor is still in!

BWV 75 – The Wretched Shall Eat (from Part II)

Jesus makes me spiritually rich.
If I can embrace His spirit,
I will long for nothing more;
for my life will grow with it.
Jesus makes me spiritually rich.

Who rests in Jesus alone,
and is driven by self-denial,
which in God’s love
he practises in faith,
has, when earthly things have disappeared,
found himself and God.

What God does, is well done,
I will cling to this.
Along the harsh path
trouble, death and misery may drive me.
Yet God will,
just like a father,
hold me in His arms:
therefore I let Him alone rule.

(English Translation from Emmanuel Music)

Bach reinvented

Perhaps the world’s longest xylophone.


A little Bach goes a long way! It’s still being enjoyed in ways he would never have imagined. How many years later? 263 years and counting.

Come join us this summer for some more Bach at the inaugural Washington Music Festival – July 19-21 at George Washington Inn and Estate! You will find baroque music wrapped up in an exciting new package.

Fire and a cantata

The Muhlhausen Fire of 1707
In May 1707 a fire ravaged the town of Mühlhausen, where a young twenty-two year old Johann Sebastian Bach was employed as the organist at the Lutheran church of St. Blasius. Fires, as you might imagine, were devastating to the inhabitants of a city. Fortunes and families alike were often wiped out (we don’t know to what extent Bach was personally affected). The Mühlhausen fire seems to have destroyed nearly a quarter of the town. A pastor in the town approached Bach and asked him to compose a cantata based on Psalm 130. Perhaps this pastor sensed that the fire was the result of the Lord’s judgment for the sin of the town. Bach notes on the score that the work was composed for an event of mourning–perhaps some kind of ‘memorial concert.’

Bach used sparse instrumentation for this work: one violin, two violas, a bass instrument, oboe, bassoon, with the choir and soloists. The cantata (interlinear German/English text here) begins with the first two verses of Psalm 130. The words “Out of the depths I cry, Lord, to you (Aus der Tiefe ruf’ ich, Herr, zu dir).” The voicing is intentionally low to represent the “depths.” In the “ruf”/”cry”, one clearly hears the dissonance and the word is lengthened. The quicker rendition of the second line may intend to show a glimmer of hope: “Lord, O hear my calling, incline your ear unto my voice and hear my prayers (Herr, höre meine Stimme, lass deine Ohren merken auf die Stimme meines Flehens).”

Tragedy can inspire. Bach knew personal tragedy like few of us, yet he seemed to always grow stronger in his faith. Many of his cantatas were composed out of a right response to tragedy and sorrow.

Bach composed several hundred cantatas over his lifetime, of which only 209 have been preserved or discovered.

Source: Psalm 130 in the Hands of a Young Johann Sebastian

Psalm 130

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Music is a dream!

The Lady in Number 6 is one of the most inspirational, uplifting stories of the year. This movie will surely be a blockbuster! 109 year old Alice Herz Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor in the world, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. “Life is beautiful!” she laughs, “life is beautiful!” She holds no hatred, just gratitude.

Want to catch some of her inspiration? All the more reason to come and enjoy a little Bach and some inspiring baroque music at the Washington Music Festival!

Read more about Alice Sommer: A Garden of Eden in Hell


Music for the people

Enjoy this excellent documentary on the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. Explore the legacy of a faithful Christian servant who used his talents passionately with this compelling focus and stated purpose: “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit.”

This award winning introduction to the great composer features scenes from Eisenach, Ohrdruf, Weimar, Kothen, Muhlhausen and of course, Leipzig and showcases insights from noted J. S. Bach scholars Christoph Wolff, Robin Leaver and guitar virtuoso Christopher Parkening. Narrated by Carl Grapentine.

Music at Mount Vernon

Did you know that music was important at Mount Vernon?

Although he may not have been musically-inclined himself, George Washington was the head of a household where his wife, Martha–whom he had married as a widow with two children, and later her four grandchildren (two of whom were raised by the Washingtons) all studied music. An intimate friend of Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, Alexander Reinagle, was engaged as the music teacher of George Washington’s step-granddaughter, Eleanor Parke Custis (known as Nelly), whom Washington adopted legally when her father died.

The President bought her a harpsichord and had it imported from Europe. Martha made her granddaughter, Nelly, practice on it 4 or 5 hours a day. As an adult, Martha Washington’s grandson George Washington Parke Custis (known as “Washy”) recalled that his sister, Nelly, had to practice “very long and very unwillingly at the harpsichord…the poor girl would play and cry, and cry and play, for long hours, under the immediate eye of her grandmother, a rigid disciplinarian in all things.”

Purchase of a Harpsichord for Mount Vernon

The purchase of the harpsichord and long hours of practice seems to have accomplished their intended purpose. Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, a Polish nobleman who stayed at Mount Vernon in June 1798, wrote of Nelly that, “Her sweetness is equal to her beauty, and this being, so perfect of form, possesses all the talents: she plays the harpsichord, sings, draws better than any woman in America or even in Europe.” On the eve of his visit, he lamented and wrote, “In the evening, for the last time, pretty Miss Custis sang and played on the harpsichord.”

Eleanor Parke Custis

Among the surviving musical scores owned by Nelly Custis were the following: several adapted by her music teacher Alexander Reinagle for the piano from the operas Rosina and The Poor Soldier, a version of a Haydn symphony called Le Reine de France arranged for harpsichord or pianoforte, a keyboard arrangement of Gluck’s overture to the opera Iphigenia at Aulis, several sonatas by J. C. Bach, as well as an excerpt from Handel’s Water Music, and Haydn’s Mermaids Song.





A Bach pilgrimage

Our best wishes to Sir John Eliot Gardiner who celebrates his 70th birthday today!

In honor of his efforts to highlight J. S. Bach’s contribution to music, we will post six video clips that highlight Gardiner’s Bach pilgrimage. This effort discovered places of worship and spiritual significance that encompassed where Bach lived and worked. From these towns his incredible music spread around the globe, and we can still enjoy it today more than ever. Thank you Sir John Eliot Gardiner for your effort!