Before Bach's Birthday Bash 2021

Sunday through Sunday, March 14 - 21

Opening and Welcome

Day 1 - March 14: 

Pascal Givot and Evan Pechacek, TCAGO Local Performers

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599

Wer nun den lieben Gott, BWV 642

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein, BWV 641


Day 2 - March 15

Katie Gunn, TCAGO Local Performer

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543


Day 3 - March 16

Sarah Palmer, TCAGO Local Performer

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 544


Day 4 - March 17

Kathrine Handford, TCAGO Local Performer

Harpsichord Toccata in C minor, BWV 911


Day 5 - March 18

Catherine Rodland, TCAGO Local Perfomer

Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book):

O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, BWV 618

Christ du Lamm Gottes, BWV 619

Christus der uns selig macht, BWV 620

Da Jesus am dem Kreuze stund, BWV 621

O mensch bewein dein Sunde gross, BWV 622

Wir danke dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 623

Hilf Gott dass mirs gelinge, BWV 624

Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625


Day 6 - March 19

Samuel Long, TCAGO Local Performer

Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C, BWV 564


Day 7 - March 20

Samuel Backman & Adrian Volovets, TCAGO Local Performer's

Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582


Find performers' biographies below.


Day 8 - March 21

Happy Birthday, Johann Sebastian Bach! 

We hope you’ve been able to share in our multifaceted "Before Bach’s Birthday Bash" feast. Thanks to 'technical caterer' Jeremy Haug for facilitating this lavish spread, and to the numerous performers and audio-video technicians, young and young-at-heart, whose presentation of Bach’s great music has provided such a remarkable repast. 

A closing Michael Barone Reflection can be found here.

Might we also encourage you to listen to a program from the PIPEDREAMS Archive (#8576, "Bach and Forth"), something Michael Barone put together back in 1985. It reflects on the nuance of change and the seemingly perpetual challenge and amazement that the works of Bach have presented to performers from Day One. I don’t pretend that my insights are profound but do hope they stir up your thinking. We’ve learned a lot in the 36 years since the Bach Tercentenary, and likely will continue with new discoveries and approaches to his music in the years to come. It will be, as has been proven, an infinite resource and treasure. Thanks for listening!

—Michael Barone, and the Twin Cities American Guild of Organists


See also the Daily Nightcaps of Bach page for supplemental materials.


*****

From March 14 through March 21, TCAGO members were emailed a supplement each day for this year's program for Before Bach's Birthday Bash.

These are YouTube performances of diverse works by J.S.B. featuring these TCAGO members:

Catherine Rodland
Kathrine Handford
Samuel Backman


Performances also feature these students:

Adrian Volovets
Evan Pechacek
Samuel Long
Sarah Palmer
Katie Gunn
Pascal Givot
Each daily supplement also included additional Bach-related items from various sources. Performances of TCAGO local performers are posted on the TCAGO YouTube Channel.


Program and Performer Biographies

Pascal Givot


Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, on the Aeolian-Skinner organ at St. Clement Episcopal Church (see more photos)

Pascal Givot is a 16-year-old 10th grader at St. Paul's Central High School. He began his piano studies with Dr. Oleg Levin at the age of five, continued with Vedran Arkus when living in Austria, and started his organ studies with Prof. Dr. James Callahan at the age of twelve. He has performed in Germany, Austria, and the US. He currently is the organ scholar at St. Clement's Episcopal Church in St. Paul.


Evan Pechacek


Three chorales from the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) on the Hendrickson organ at the Recital Hall, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599

Wer nun den lieben Gott, BWV 642

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein, BWV 641

Evan Pechacek is currently studying for his undergraduate degree in Music Education at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and studies organ with Dr. Laura Edman, along with studying piano and trombone. He is currently involved in an undergraduate research project on how to integrate more composition and improvisation into the music classroom.


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Katherine Handford


Toccata in C minor, BWV 911, on harpsichord.

Kathrine Handford is a musician of wide-ranging interests and accomplishments. She has appeared in recital in the United States, Canada, England, Italy, France, and Scandinavia where she has been a featured artist at international music festivals. Handford was the winner of the 35th International J.S. Bach Competition held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In the same year, she received first prize in the John R. Rodland Scholarship Competition in New Jersey. She has received many grants and awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

She holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Concordia College, St. Paul, and the Eastman School of Music, where she received the highly coveted Performer’s Certificate in Organ Performance. Last year she received a diploma in Recording and Production Arts from the University of Stavanger in Norway.

As a specialist in 17th century music, she has performed numerous recitals with the Swedish natural trumpet virtuoso Niklas Eklund and the Australian Baroque Brass. Her interest in new music has led to premieres of several new works for organ, including Stephen Paulus’ Toccata for Organ, Ketil Hvoslef’s Toccata for Organ, Robert Starer’s Angel Voices, and David Liptak’s Sonata for Violin and Organ, which was commissioned by Benedictinus 2000 and premiered in Rome.

For fifteen years she was University Organist and Lecturer in Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Many of her students have received top awards and honors in regional and national organ playing competitions and have gone on to study at major graduate schools in organ performance.

She is a member of the program committee for the Twin Cities Chapter American Guild of Organists as well as a member of the National Young Organists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP) committee, the premier performance competition of the American Guild of Organists. She serves on the education committee and board of the American Composers Forum.


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Katie Gunn


Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543, on the Holtkamp organ, Boe Memorial Chapel, at St. Olaf College, Northfield.

Katie Gunn is a sophomore at St. Olaf College pursuing a B.M. in Church Music/Organ. She is a student of Dr. Catherine Rodland and Organ Scholar at Colonial Church of Edina, MN. Katie studied with Carol Rosenthal and Dr. Mattilda Middleton prior to her time at St. Olaf. Growing up in Indianapolis, she sang in the choir of Christ Church Cathedral from 2007-2019. She has attended numerous RSCM courses: the Carolina Course in 2015 and 2017-2019 and the Washington, D.C. Course in 2016. In the summer of 2020, Katie was an intern at the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation in Indianapolis.


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Sarah Palmer


Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544, on the Holtkamp organ, Boe Memorial Chapel, at St. Olaf College, Northfield.

Sarah Palmer is a junior at St. Olaf College and studies with Catherine Rodland. She likes making organ arrangements of orchestral works and music from movies and video games.




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Samuel Long


Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C, BWV 564, on the Holtkamp organ, Boe Memorial Chapel, at St. Olaf College, Northfield.

Samuel Long is a senior organ student of Dr. Catherine Rodland at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. At the age of 10, Sam left his hometown of Worcester, MA, to attend the St. Thomas Choir School in New York and sing in the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys under the direction of Dr. John Scott. He attributes his passion for organ music to the years he spent listening to organ music at each of the five weekly church services he sang for. During his first year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Sam started studying organ with a handful of local organists. At St. Olaf, he sings tenor with the St. Olaf Choir and likes to spend his downtime swing dancing, swimming or running. He is currently serving as the Organist and Director of Music at All Saints Episcopal Church in Northfield.


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Cathy Rodland


Eight chorales from the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) on the Holtkamp organ, Boe Memorial Chapel, at St. Olaf College, Northfield.

O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, BWV 618

Christ du Lamm Gottes, BWV 619

Christus der uns selig macht, BWV 620

Da Jesus am dem Kreuze stund, BWV 621

O mensch bewein dein Sunde gross, BWV 622

Wir danke dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 623

Hilf Gott dass mirs gelinge, BWV 624

Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625

Catherine Rodland, whose playing has been described as “transcendent” (The American Organist), is Artist in Residence at St. Olaf College. She graduated cum laude with departmental distinction in organ performance from St. Olaf in 1987.

She received both the MM and DMA from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY where she was a student of Russell Saunders. At Eastman, Catherine received the prestigious Performer’s Certificate and the Ann Anway Award for excellence in organ performance. She is a prizewinner in several competitions including the 1994 and 1998 American Guild of Organists Young Artists Competition, the 1994 Calgary International Organ Competition, and the 1988 International Organ Competition at the University of Michigan for which she received first prize. She concertizes exclusively throughout the United States and Canada.

At St. Olaf Catherine teaches a full studio of organ students as well as music theory and ear training classes. She performs regularly at St. Olaf, in 2007 dedicating the new Holtkamp organ in Boe Memorial Chapel, and performing as a featured soloist with the St. Olaf Orchestra and the St. Olaf Band. These performances were released as CDs through St. Olaf Records. In 2010 Catherine released two CDs: “Dedication”, and “American Weavings”, the latter recorded in Boe Chapel at St. Olaf College with violist and duo partner Carol Rodland. The Rodland Duo is managed by Concert Artists Cooperative. 


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Samuel Backman


Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582, on the Hinners/Wicks/Orvold organ at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Minneapolis

Sam Backman currently serves as Director of Sacred Music at Holy Cross Catholic, where he chairs a multi-faceted music program across three campuses, functioning as principal organist and director of choirs. Prior to his employment at Holy Cross, he held positions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Golden Valley, MN; the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, MN; Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore, OK; Saint Paul’s on the Green Episcopal Church in Norwalk, CT; and the University Church at Yale in New Haven, CT.

An active performer, Dr. Backman has been featured as an organ recitalist for conferences hosted by the American Guild of Organists and the Church Music Association of America. His performances have also been featured on Pipedreams, a National Public Radio Broadcast service hosted by Michael Barone. He is also a composer and arranger of music for choir, organ, piano, and chamber ensembles and his compositions have been published by Paraclete Press.

Dr. Backman holds degrees from St. Olaf College (B.M.), the Yale School of Music (M.M.), and the University of Oklahoma (D.M.A.). He completed his organ studies in performance and improvisation with John Ferguson, Catherine Rodland, Martin Jean, Damin Spritzer, and John Schwandt, and he studied conducting with Anton Armstrong, Christopher Aspaas, Marguerite Brooks, and Timothy Mahr. Samuel is a recipient of many distinguished scholarships and awards, including St. Olaf College’s G. Winston Cassler Scholarship, Yale University’s Mary Baker Award for excellence in organ accompaniment, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago’s Ruth and Paul Manz Scholarship Competition, and nomination to Pi Kappa Lambda, a national honor society for music.


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Adrian Volovets


Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, on the Fritts organ at University of Notre Dame Basilica, Notre Dame, Indiana

Adrian Volovets is a first year Master’s student in Sacred Music at the University of Notre Dame and currently studies with Dr. Kola Owolabi. He hopes to continue the legacy of the legendary conductor, organist, and harpsichordist Karl Richter by performing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Max Reger in the Leipzig tradition. Adrian is a firm believer in evoking ecstasy through his performances, ones that involve grandiose registrations, fast tempi, unorthodox stop combinations, and veering away from generalized styles. He has often performed at the Basilica of Saint Mary, the Cedar Cultural Center, the Museum of Russian Art, and the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Adrian wishes to pursue his DMA in Sacred Music in the future.


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