Admission to all presentations is free

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cal Poly Music Department will present Bach Week from Tuesday through Saturday, Jan. 19-23, with all presentations offered virtually and with free admission.

Bach Week features a range of events, including two lectures, two master classes with guest artists and two concerts:

• At 7 p.m. Jan. 19, Bach Week Co-Director David Arrivée will present an Akademie lecture titled “Bach’s ‘Musical Offering.’” May 7, 1747, is the most documented date in J.S. Bach’s musical life. Provided with a complex, 21-note theme by Frederick the Great, Bach improvised a three-voice fugue, astounding the gathered audience of notable musicians, according to historians. He later wrote out this fugue and added several other compositions as a suitably submissive “offering” to the monarch. In his talk, Arrivée will outline the opposite world views of these two great men and explore the details of the music that provide insight into the nature of Bach’s gift. 

• At 7:45 p.m. Jan. 19, Cal Poly’s Suzanne Duffy on flute; Emily Lanzone, violin; Laura Gaynon, cello; and Paul Woodring, harpsichord; will perform the sonata from Bach’s “Musical Offering,” a collection of works dedicated to Frederick the Great. This sonata features not only the flute — the monarch’s instrument — but also the theme that Frederick the Great gave to Bach as a challenge during his visit. That theme was interwoven with the inexhaustible invention that distinguishes Bach’s music. 


• At 11:10 a.m. Jan. 21, guest artists Andrew McIntosh, violin; and Paul Sherman, oboe; will coach Cal Poly students in instrumental repertoire from the Baroque era and provide insight into the style and nuance of giving a historically informed performance. 

• At 3:10 p.m. Jan. 21, guest artist and soprano Rebecca Myers will coach several Cal Poly voice students in varied repertoire. 

• At 7 p.m. Jan. 23, Bach Week Co-Director Scott Glysson will give a pre-concert lecture titled “The Motets of J.S. Bach.” Bach’s six motets (BWV 225-230) are some of the most iconic works of the traditional choral-vocal repertoire. Though these masterworks have been studied by countless scholars over the last 200 years, much about their purpose and origins remains a mystery. Glysson will give an overview and discussion of these important and celebrated works.

• At 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, the Cal Poly Chamber Choir will conclude Bach Week with a performance of “Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden,” BWV 230. Attendees will also be treated to a bonus performance of two movements of “Missa O magnum mysterium” by Giovanni Palestrina.

Admission is free to all of the events this year. Donations can be made during any of the presentations.

The events are sponsored by Cal Poly’s Music Department, College of Liberal Arts and Instructionally Related Activities program. Additional support is provided by the Handler and Steiner Family Fund. 

For more information, visit the Bach Week website, email or call the Music Department at 805-756-2406.