Bach to the Future

More than 300 years after his birth, German composer Johann Sebastian Bach is still well known. Despite frequent claims that classical music is dead, most Americans recognize Bach's name. Like the best things in life, Bach's music continues to appeal.

Of course, sometimes it takes a new perspective to help us hear it with fresh ears.

On Jan. 25, the University of Dayton’s ArtsLIVE presents “Bach Unwound,” a program of selections from Bach’s great Unaccompanied Cello Suites, as well as some new variations of the work.

New York City-based Ashley Bathgate — described as a “glorious cellist” by The Washington Post — will perform.

The Cello Suites are among Bach’s most frequently recorded work since their rediscovery by the famous cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973) in the early 20th century. Prior to Casals’ recording of the compositions in 1936, the Cello Suites were regarded as simply musical exercises. It took Casals’ vision and sensitivity to demonstrate the genius of work that was almost lost to time.

While Bathgate received a classical music education at Bard College as well as the Yale University School of Music, in her professional life she had consistently explored and performed new music.

The New York Times has called Bathgate an “eloquent new music interpreter,” and she is a member of the adventurous Bang-on-a-Can ensemble. In this vein, Bathgate recently commissioned a series of reflections of Bach’s work by the Brooklyn-based composer collective Sleeping Giant (Timo Andres, Chris Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein and Andrew Norman).

The ArtsLIVE presentation at 7:30 p.m. in the Sears Recital Hall of the University’s Jesse Philips Humanities Center is open to the public and campus community. Following Bathgate’s performance, a short post-concert talk will address how Bach continues to appeal to modern audiences.

Tickets are $16 general admission; $12 for seniors, military, and University faculty, staff and alumni; and $8 for youth. Admission is free for University students with ID. Advance tickets are available by calling the University Box Office at 937-229-2545 or visiting the website at http://go.udayton.edu/artslive. If available, tickets will also be sold at the door. Parking is free.

- Eileen Carr, ArtsLIVE coordinator

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