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Press Release

Cal Poly to Present Annual Bach Week Jan. 18-21

The Bach Week logo

Contact: Michele Abba


‘St. John Passion’ will be performed for the finale concert

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cal Poly Music Department will present its 2024 Bach Week from Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 18-21, with presentations and performances on campus and at the First Presbyterian Church in San Luis Obispo.

The week, which focuses on Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries, will include two master classes, a lecture, a chamber concert featuring vocalists and instrumentalists on period instruments, and a finale concert of Bach’s “St. John Passion.”

The first three events will take place on Jan. 18 in Room 218 of the Davidson Music Center (No. 45):

— 11:10 a.m.: Guest artists Leif Woodward, cello, and Andrew McIntosh, violin, will coach Cal Poly students in instrumental repertoire from the Baroque era, with a focus on historically informed performance. During the second half, Woodward will coach students in effective continuo playing, which is the foundation of all Baroque music.

— 3:10 p.m.: Guest artist Brian Giebler, a Grammy award-nominated tenor, will coach several Cal Poly voice students in repertoire from the Baroque era.

— 7:30 p.m.: For the Akademie Lecture-Demonstration titled “Bach’s Evangelist,” Bach Week Co-Director Scott Glysson will trace the history of Bach’s Passions as a musical setting. Vocalists Brian Giebler and Ben Kazez, and accompanist Paul Woodring, will help demonstrate the various roles of the main characters that will be examined.

A block of photos showing the faces of 17 performers who are featured in the 2024 Bach Week
Performers who will take stage during the 2024 Bach Week, Jan. 18-21, on campus and in San Luis Obispo.

Photos courtesy of Cal Poly Music Department

The Jan. 19 “The Trio Sonata Ideal” chamber concert will take place in the First Presbyterian Church of San Luis Obispo:

— 7:30 p.m.: One of the defining features of the new Baroque style was the so-called “trio sonata ideal.” In this, musical texture became stratified between a bass and two upper parts. Nowhere is this ideal more obviously seen than in the trio sonata, which, along with opera, was one of the defining genres of the Baroque style. This program will explore the evolution of the trio sonata throughout the Baroque period, in works by Bach, Antonio Bertali, Dario Castello, Arcangelo Corelli, Jean-Marie Leclair, Biagio Marini, Henry Purcell and Luigi Rossi. The program will also present early vocal works for two singers and continuo by Claudio Monteverdi, showing how the trio sonata ideal operated in all genres, not just instrumental music. Rebecca Myers, soprano; Ben Kazez, baritone; and members of Tesserae Baroque: Andrew McIntosh, violin; Vijay Gupta, violin; Leif Woodward, cello; and Ian Pritchard, harpsichord; will perform on the concert.

The Jan. 21 finale concert will be back on campus, in the Performing Arts Center:

— 3 p.m.: Members of Cal Poly’s Chamber Choir, Symphony and faculty will join with guest artists to perform Bach’s dramatic St. John Passion, BWV 245. “Bach’s two completed passion settings — St. John and St. Matthew — are two of the most important musical monuments of Western European Classical music,” said Glysson. “The works represent the height of Lutheran Baroque style and a complete mastery over a variety of forms, orchestration and dramatic narratives. Bach didn’t write any operas, but this is about as close as he came.” First performed 300 years ago in 1724, this setting narrates the Passion of Christ as found in the Gospel of John. The Evangelist, sung by guest artist Brian Giebler, tells the story, while solo vocalists and choir provide emotional reflections from the individual and community perspective. Glysson will conduct the first half, and Bach Week Co-Director David Arrivée will conduct the second half.


Admission to the Jan. 18 master classes and lecture is free, though parking fees will be enforced. Visit Cal Poly’s Transportation and Parking Services website for parking information.

Jan. 19 concert tickets and Jan. 21 concert tickets are $20 for the public and $10 for students. There is discounted pricing if tickets are purchased to both concerts: $30 public, $15 students. Tickets are available at the Cal Poly Ticket Office between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To order by phone, call 805-SLO-4TIX (805-756-4849).

The events are sponsored by Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts, Music Department 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.