Students of Bach in 'Family Concert'
"Composing from the Ground Up: The Chaconne Project" may sound like a daunting prospect.
Not for eight student composers whose work will be featured in the annual The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra Family Concert: "The Write Stuff," 3 p.m. Jan. 27, Baker Hall, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University.
Every work on the program was written by composers under the age of 25, including the young Bach.
Centerpiece of the concert are performances by the choir and ochestra of works from The Bach Choir's second Young Composer Competition: Michael Battipaglia, Moravian College senior, "Nos Vero Unum"; Michael McAndrew, Moravian College sophomore, "Midnight," and Christopher Ostertag, 9th Grade home-schooled, "The Light of Zion has Come!"
Following the concert, there's a book launch party for "Dear Mr. Funfgeld," a commemorative book in honor of Greg Funfgeld's 30th anniversary as artistic director and conductor of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. The book was compiled and edited by Bridget George, Bach Choir executive director, and designed by Anne Schauer.
The Chaconne Project is the brainchild of Dr. Larry Lipkis, composer-in-residence and professor of music at Moravian College.
Lipkis got the idea for the project from an outreach his early music group, the Baltimore Consort, did last year with students at a Seattle, Wash., school. Lipkis spoke with Bridget George and The Chaconne Project was born.
Chaconne is the French word for ciaccona, Italian name for a popular Baroque music composition whereby a repetitive bass line, known as the "ground bass," is the basis for a melodic and-or harmonic variation.
Contemporary examples include, in classical music, Pachelbel's Canon in D, and, in popular music, Percy Mayfield's "Hit the Road Jack" recorded by Ray Charles.
The eight Lehigh Valley student musicians will demonstrate the composing technique based on Bach's Chaconne in D Minor, accompanied by the Bach Festival Orchestra.
School districts represented by the students include Saucon Valley and East Penn, plus Moravian Academy, cyber school and home-schooled.
Lipkis sent Chaconne Project information to the students prior to Christmas, with rehearsals Jan. 12, 19 and 26, Peter Hall, Moravian College.
"It went so well," Lipkis says of the first rehearsal.
At the Family Concert, there will be 13 compositions from the eight students, including "Sibling Variations" by Sarah Lazzaro, flute, and Christopher Lazzaro, violin, plus a finale.
"It's something new. There are three elements to it. I want to to be fun. I want it to be educational. And I want it to beautiful," Lipkis says.
"It has been fun. And they're learning an awful lot. And they're writing really beautiful stuff. I was actually blown away by what they wrote and played Saturday," says Lipkis.
"I think the audience will really like it just the sight of these eight kids up their playing their own music with the orchestra.
"I think that Bach would be very pleased.