ordinaryextraordinary lecture, Minot, October 2016

Audience questions, answered with music and discussion, in an open dialogue about the mysteries of music and the works of J.S. Bach.

This lecture series began as a pre-concert talk given for the North State Symphony in December of 2014. I had been reading Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach and thinking about factors that might have led J.S. Bach to write with such earnestness, creativity, and genius. Bach is a unique figure, earning praise from atheists and the religious, from those obsessed with structure and those obsessed with expressivity, from musicians and non-musicians. I pictured a bridge, and wrote this first lecture in an ABA form, or more accurately an ABCDEAEDCBA form, where A is a performance of a single movement from the Bach suites and BCDE, introduced in the outset (ordinary), is more richly explored and transformed upon its return (extraordinary).

The central concept is that as the listener changes so does the experience of the music, even though it may be precisely the same. This has become my mission on stages, in classrooms, and in lecture: to help audiences observe things on their own that they have not noticed before, to give them the tools to listen more powerfully and find rich connections with music as an expression of art, emotion, and architecture.

The format I prefer for this talk is an intimate setting, like a living room or other small, informal space, where the line between performer and audience disappears, and a dialogue ensues. These conversation-performances range from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the time allowed and the curiosities of the audience. I am inspired by the questions, and leave each event feeling like I see the material freshly.

Upcoming in 2021: Cincinnati, OH as a returning guest of the Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas. Details TBA, streamed as part of their virtual 20-21 season.

Past events in Chico, CA; San Francisco, CA; Hunter, NY; Des Moines, IA; Minot, ND; Grand Forks, ND; Cincinnati, OH.