Gillian Keith Soprano

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The Big Bach Project is Launched!

Launching The Big Bach ProjectBigBachProject image

Raise the curtain! Turn on the spotlights! The show is ready to begin!

The Big Bach Project is officially underway after the launch of the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Volume One of our complete set of Bach Cantatas for solo Soprano.  Along with my colleagues at Armonico Consort, we are ready to move into the first stage of this ambitious venture.

We have high hopes for our fundraising campaign, to which many loyal supporters have already contributed; I am wholeheartedly grateful to those who have jumped right in with us.  See our Kickstarter page and video here.

Many people are turning to crowdfunding these days – and not just artists. It is becoming increasingly accepted as a realistic way of funding work that can’t guarantee support from struggling charities, overstretched grant-giving organisations and governments. Crowdfunding gives us more control over our project right from the start. We can begin with funds in place, which means less risk, and greater ability to plan. If we can be independent of the record label by funding our own recording sessions, we have more control over the project in the longterm. Just as society is changing its habits in the ways it hears, shares and buys music, so are artists developing their approach to recording, distributing and performing music in the 21st Century.

So with Stage One of The Big Bach Project under way, what happens next? The first event in our calendar is our concert tour. We are performing Cantatas BWV 82a, BWV 202 and BWV 210 in Warwick, Great Malvern and Yeovil from March 17-21. Full details of these concerts can be found here. It will be our chance to connect directly with live audiences; to speak to them about the pieces, and what makes each work in the project so special.  These performances will also allow us to experiment and have fun with the music before the more precise business of recording begins.

There is also research and written preparation to do for these events. I will be writing programme notes for the concerts, and putting the pieces into a more factual and historical context for the audience.

We are scheduled to begin recording in mid-April, by which time the experience of our live concerts will have settled somewhat, and we will have had an opportunity to let the joy of those performances permeate our thoughts and ideas about the music. In the meantime, I am studying these pieces daily – living and breathing them as I go about my day-to-day, with their luscious melodies, rich harmonies and poignant texts running constantly through my head.

The opening bars of ‘The Wedding Cantata’ are like a perfect sunrise. The firmly grounded bass line sits on the horizon, from which the ascending string arpeggios rise into the golden harmonies of the lightening sky. The blossoming of the oboe’s pure melody is echoed by the soprano line singing, “Disperse, gloomy shadows!” The sun is also rising on our project, and I am filled with a sense of great hope not only for the coming weeks, but for the entire journey – I hope to be able to share my deep love of this music with many, and that as a group, we will communicate its genius through our interpretation.