Giving Bach with Your Group
There are two basic goals to keep in mind when presenting a “Giving Bach” concert:
GOAL 1- Educate your audience with a formal concert experience. Remember that many of them have never been to a “classical” concert.
GOAL 2 – Allow the performers and audience to interact.
A Formal Concert Experience
Wherever you perform, try to set up the room like a “real” concert—orchestra facing the audience, and the audience in formal rows, like you would see in an auditorium. By the end of the concert, the “fourth wall” between performers and audience will hopefully be broken, and everyone will be mixing together, but starting your concert like this is most effective.
Before beginning to play, discuss with your audience what is expected from them as to behavior, appropriate applause after each selection, etc. Demonstrate the formal tuning process, and briefly explain how the performers actually tune their instruments.
This is the most powerful element of any “Giving Bach” presentation. Look for ways to keep your audience involved as much as possible. Some ideas for this include:
Short breaks for Questions & Answers
The Audience “Walk-Through”
A Tone Painting Lesson
The “Giving Bach” Concert
“Giving Bach” concerts typically start with the formal concert experience followed by a more informal time during which performers and audience members interact. The structure of a typical concert is given below. #1 and #2 should be treated as a formal concert experience, while #3, 4, and 5 are interactive.
An energetic “classical” opening piece. It is highly encouraged that you begin with a selection by J. S. Bach! Any of the Brandenburg Concerto movements make a wonderful opening number.
Demonstrations of each instrument. (see Section Features for repertoire ideas)
Another full ensemble selection. A novelty piece, an audience “walk-through” or a tone painting lesson works well here. If there are time constraints, eliminate this selection and go right to the Side-by-Side Instruction part of the concert.
Side-by-Side Instruction. (see Side-by-Side Instruction for details)
A closing piece. This piece can either be something up tempo and flashy or something slow and introspective. “Ashokan Farewell” by Ungar/Custer is a wonderful way to close your concert, and say “goodbye” musically to your audience.
Perform your closing piece in the side-by-side set up, with each of your performers sitting next to the audience member they have been teaching. If some of your performers end up away from their music stand, have them memorize this piece, OR have their audience member hold the music for them. Fun! For best results, this closing piece should last no more than 1:30 (things get a little awkward if it goes too long). Consider making cuts in the music if necessary.