Four local students will be taking the stage with the Symphony of the Kootenays at the Symphony’s next concert

Bring on the Bach

Cranbrook student pianists bring back the Bach with the Symphony of the Kootenays, Dec. 5

Barry Coulter

The Symphony of the Kootenays’ second concert of the 2015/16 season — “A Winter’s Star” — features a strong local angle.

The concert, set for Saturday, Dec. 5, is the Symphony’s annual Christmas-themed concert, and accordingly will start off with the Symphony performing some seasonal favourites. Following this, four Mt. Baker Secondary School students will take to the stage for a Bach interlude at the piano.

Katie Feng, the first pianist, will perform Bach’s  “Sheep May Safely Graze.”

“It’s very beautiful,” Katie said during a rehearsal last weekend at the Key City Theatre. “It’s a birthday cantata written for Duke Christian (of Saxe-Weissenfels).”

“Sheep May Safely Graze” is an instrumental arrangement of an aria from the cantata, which was originally scored for soprano with two recorders and thoroughbass. Feng will perform it at the piano along with the Symphony.

Up next will be Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, with three students each playing one of the concerto’s three movements.

David Robertson plays the first movement — the allegro. “Very energetic, very fast,” he said. “It starts the concerto off brilliantly — the first and third movements are big and energetic, fast and technical.

“The first movement goes through a bunch of different themes, alternating between the performer and the symphony

Karen Feng plays the second movement of the Concerto, the Adagio. “(The second movement) will be very dramatic and emotional. It’s meant to be more melodic and musical.”

Back to allegro for the third movement, played by Emily Daly. “It will be fast and bouncy, which is what I like,” she said.

All four students said they are excited for the opportunity to appear with the Symphony.

Also on the program, following the Bach, will be “Stella Natalis” by Karl Jenkins, featuring Nelson soprano Noémi Kiss and trumpeter Tim Bullen, back by a combined MBSS-Selkirk Secondary choir.

For more information on the Dec. 5 Symphony of the Kootenays concert,, or visit the Symphony of the Kootenays on their Facebook page.

Pianists on Bach

‘To compare Mozart or Beethoven concertos to the Bach ones is like comparing marble cake to a Denver sandwich. Later composers, players and listeners sneered because his themes didn’t get stirred in and develop as in a sonata; but his focus was on the opposing tonal bulks of a supported solo instrument versus the whole orchestra.   The soloist gets the various sandwich fillings of different themes, and the orchestra presents slice after slice of similar musical “bread” layer by layer between them.”

David Robertson

“Some people think of Bach as dry and mathematical; but this Concerto should show them!  The two outer movements both are very athletic and dramatic.  My slow movement has achingly beautiful melodic lines with heartfelt harmonies – and a few musical shocks that really grab our hearts.  It’s a big challenge to make the hit-hit-hit of piano hammers translate into singing lines of music. In fact, by Mozart’s time people felt that a lot of Bach was too sweeping, too emotional!  Poor guy couldn’t win.”

Karen Feng

“All of today’s Bach music shows another amazing, powerful historic feature.  Science was rocketing ahead in Bach’s day, and as people learned of order and method in chemistry, astronomy, anatomy and the like they wanted their music to proceed in  orderly, methodical fashion too.  That’s why each of today’s Bach movements has a kind of motor-drive in its regular, underlying  pulse.  No matter how strong or soft the music, that underlying sense of orderly pacing remains through it all.”

Emily Daly

“Concerto is from the same root as concerted effort – something done by a group. Originally just a term for an orchestral piece, ‘Concerto’ by Bach’s time was growing to mean a piece for one or more featured instruments with orchestra.  J.S. Bach invented the keyboard concerto by arranging some – perhaps all – of his from earlier string or wind concertos by himself or others. Only the keyboard version survives for many of them.”

Katie Feng

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