Music Department travels Bach to the future

In Arts & Entertainment, Music
Courtesy of MCT
Courtesy of MCT

One of history’s greatest music composers, Johannes Sebastian Bach, turns 328 on March 31.

In his honor, the College of the Arts at Cal State Fullerton  will be performing A Bach Bouquet: Chamber music for Cello, Flute and Klaviers at Meng Concert Hall on Feb. 9.

The performance will consist of four solo and one duo works composed by Bach. This includes the “Flute Sonata in B minor,” the “Cello Suite in G minor,” the “Partita in E minor” and the “Concerto in C major” for two solo pianos.

Rob Watson, Ph.D., director of the performance, will also be performing a piano solo. He has been a professor at CSUF since 1990 and has played music since he was a child. In college he transitioned from the oboe to piano.

Watson put together A Bach Bouquet to musically collaborate with his friends and colleagues who all share a love for Bach.

“I put this program together as a solo piano piece that I will be playing. There is a piece for solo flute and piano.

There is a piece for solo cello with continuo,” said Watson. “We are ending with a big splash, two pianos on stage playing together, a concerto without an orchestra.”

The “Concerto in C major,” which will close the show, will be performed by Watson and his colleague, Alison Edwards.

The “Concerto in C minor” was originally written to be played by a harpsichord and a string orchestra accompaniment since the piano had not been invented during Bach’s time, the Baroque Period.

Watson and Edwards will be translating the work to piano without the orchestra accompaniment.

“Everyone has their own take on how to interpret the music of Bach,” Watson said.

Bach was a German composer and musician in the Baroque period.  He was born in 1685 and later died in 1750. Bach’s music is known for its harmonic organization. He was once called the original father of harmony by Beethoven.

His works remain popular today and performed all over the world.

Performing the Cello Suite will be Professor Bongshin Ko, a CSUF music professor, accompanied by student Kevin Mills playing continuo.

“I play with one of my students, Kevin Mills, at this concert. He plays the continuo part along with my solo part in the Bach Sonata in G Minor,” said Ko. “Kevin is a very pleasant person and an excellent cellist.”

Mills is principal cellist of the University Symphony and a member of the cello choir.

“She (Ko) constantly gives me opportunities to perform and has my best interests in her heart,” said Mills. “I’m ecstatic to be able to perform with my teacher and this concert is definitely going to be one of the highlights of my college career.”

Similar to the Concerto that Watson and Edwards will be performing, the Cello Suite was originally written to be performed for solo cello and harpsichord.

Mills and Ko have been collaborating to arrange the piece for two cellos alone.

“While this process was a little overwhelming, it was extremely gratifying because it really allowed me to delve deep into the piece and really understand the ins and outs of every note, phrase, and passage,” Mills said.

Music professor Jean Ferrandis will be performing the Flute Sonata.

“This man (Ferrandis) has such a warm personality and such an engaging way about his playing and his person,” Watson said.

The performance will take place at the Meng Concert Hall on campus.

Although tickets are still available for the event, Watson is optimistic about the turnout.

“It’s very interesting when you say you’re going to play a performance of the music of Bach people seem to come from all over the place just to hear it. There is a draw that his music has.  It’s very interesting,” Watson said.

The performance starts 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9. Tickets are $13 for CSUF students and faculty and $15 regularly.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online from the College of the Arts website.

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