Clear your calendar. The fourth annual Durango Bach Festival starts next Sunday (March 14) and runs through March 19.
C. Scott Hagler, organmaster, minister of music at St. Marks Episcopal Church, and all-around good guy, has masterminded a fourth annual mega-festival to celebrate the great composers birthday. Johann Sebastian Bach was born March 21, 1685, a mere 326 years ago. Thanks to Hagler and Third Avenue Arts, Bachs music will ring in spring again.
Haglers performance grid is one of the unusual features of the festival. It all starts out next Monday with short, half-hour noon-time concerts which run all week long. Each 30-minute mini-concert is followed by a sumptuous lunch in the parish hall. Three longer concerts will be given, one the evening of March 16 and two March 19. In addition, a new documentary, Bach & Friends, will be screened March 18 with special pricing at $5 adults and students free.
Question: How do you schedule nine concerts plus a film screening, figure out program variety, squeeze 60 area musicians into a matrix, and get everyone to show up? Answer: You master complexity and persuasion.
This year, Carvers will cater the lunches. If you havent been to a noontime retreat at St. Marks, try one this year. A half-hour of Bachs music followed by good food and fellowship is a communal experience not to be missed. Sit anywhere you please, engage in easy conversation with friends, strangers and performers. Its the most unusual gathering in town and says a lot about St. Marks and our cultural life.
For the privilege of a concert and/or a lunch, a donation bowl invites whatever you can pay. Theres a general suggestion of $5 for each noon concert and another $5 for lunch. Generous folks put larger bills in the fish bowl. You can also buy an $80 all-festival pass that includes everything. Tickets are required for the larger concerts March 16 and for the final birthday bash, which takes place twice, at 2 and 7 p.m. March 19. Tickets are $15 each for adults and $5 for students and children.
If you havent bought yours by this reading, you better buy them soon at St. Marks. The pews fill up, and you dont want to miss a good hard seat while they last.
Among the performers you will hear the inimitable Hagler on organ and piano, harpsichordists Marilyn Garst and Linda Mack-Berven, and all of five sopranos the ones you know and love Gemma Kavanagh, Mack-Berven, Ruth Wilson from Cortez, Rebecca Copley, and mezzo Nan Wagner who is traveling from Oregon just to be here.
Youll also hear one of the finest musicians that has lived and performed in our midst for all too short a time. Violinist Kasia Sokol-Borup will be leaving Durango at the end of the school year to join her husband, violinist Hasse Borup, who is based in Salt Lake City. Sokol-Borup is not only assistant professor of music at Fort Lewis College, she is concertmaster of the San Juan Symphony, conductor and artistic director of the Durango Youth Symphony, violinist of the Red Shoe Piano Trio and soloist extraordinaire. Come, hear her, and wish her well.
For information, visit www.DurangoBachFestival.com.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at jreynolds@durango herald.com.