How we support our community
If indeed, knowledge is power, then we seek to empower the people of our region both young and old with rich choral tradition and stellar performance. It’s all about inspiring future generations and potential audiences who haven’t yet heard the great masterworks of choral music.
Partnering with other arts organizations in the area while reaching out to diverse sections of the community helps guide our music selections and season planning. The youth of our area are a major component to our mission and vision and a significant consideration in preparing each season. We have been fortunate to secure grant funding for collaborations from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District (MCACD), the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), the Miriam Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts, and the Monarch/Genesis Fund and Toulmin Fund of The Dayton Foundation.
2013-2014 – CELEBRATING DANCE AND SONG
This season featured one of Bach’s most significant choral works, the B Minor Mass, but perhaps the biggest event was the Bach Society’s collaboration with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in a program of modern dance in the African-American tradition. Generous funding support for DCDC’s participation came from the Toulmin Fund of the Dayton Foundation and from the Ohio Artists on Tour of the Ohio Arts Council. The collaboration began with a casual conversation between two individuals from each organization, and grew to a mutual commitment to choreograph modern dance to music drawn from the Bach Society’s normal repertory. Debbie Blunden-Diggs, DCDC artistic director, chose the specific pieces from among those recommended by our music director: Mass in G Minor, an unaccompanied work by Ralph Vaughan Williams; Frostiana, a collection of songs with lyrics from the poems of Robert Frost; and A Jubilant Song by Norman Dello Joio. DCDC developed all new choreography to fit the music and the performing venue. The dancers used the entire performing platform in the front of the Kettering Adventist Church as well as the wide central and side aisles, giving those in the audience the feeling of being closely involved in the performance. Reactions from the audience and the dancers were extraordinarily positive. Dr. Sharon Gratto, chair of the Department of Music, University of Dayton, interviewed Debbie Blunden-Diggs about the experience in the Concert Preview.
2012-2013 – ST. MATTHEW PASSION AND KETTERING CHILDREN’S CONCERT CHOIR
The Bach Society celebrated its tenth anniversary season, a significant milestone for our organization. We had extraordinary financial support from the Miriam Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts and seven other foundations and funders. That support allowed us to perform the Bach St. Matthew Passion, arguably the most significant choral work in western music, which required two choruses, two orchestras, and a children’s choir. The children’s choir normally has a relatively small part, but with the cooperation of Dr. Natalie DeHorn, artistic director and co-founder of the Kettering Children’s Choir, we significantly expanded their role, in line with our commitment to help nurture young singers with a greater exposure to classical choral music. The KCC Concert Choir sang with the Bach Society on several sections and chorales, all in German, and our Music Director John Neely attended KCC rehearsals with instruction on German pronunciation and Baroque performance practices. Neal Gittleman, music director of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, gave a very popular Concert Preview, and then joined with the Bach Society in the performance.
2011-2012 – CENTRAL STATE UNIVERSITY CHORUS
Generously supported by the Monarch/Genesis Fund of The Dayton Foundation, the Bach Society and the Central State University Chorus, under the direction of William Henry Caldwell, prepared a joint concert of varied and exciting repertoire intentionally designed to embrace cultural and racial diversity. The groups shared venues, performing first at Central State in Wilberforce and then at the Kettering Adventist Church. Joint rehearsals offered chances for singers to interact and to experience different conducting styles. Each group performed separately with classical works and spirituals, and then joined forces in works by Schubert, Stacey Gibbs, and Rosephanye Powell. The concert concluded with an arrangement of His Eye is on the Sparrow by concert preview presenter Dr. James Arthur Williams.
2010-2011 – ST. JOHN PASSION AND CAPPELLA
This project, funded by the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District and the Monarch/Genesis Fund of The Dayton Foundation, engaged singers from Cappella, the college preparatory chorus of the Kettering Children’s Choir. The ensemble joined the Bach Society chorus, orchestra, and soloists in a performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion. Dr. James Tipps, Cappella’s director, prepared the young singers. John Neely offered special musical instruction and Win Bernhardt provided German diction support. The Bach Society and Cappella rehearsed jointly prior to the concert, allowing the groups to make more personal connections. The collaboration also featured a study guide for churches and schools (also shared with Cappella choristers) on the St. John Passion. A concert preview by Rev. Jack Koepke, III, and Rev. Rodney W. Kennedy offered concertgoers insights into the St. John Passion.
2009-2010 – FOLLOW THE MUSE
“Follow the Muse” was a multi-faceted collaboration between the Bach Society and the Muse Machine in 2009-2010, generously supported by funding from the Ohio Arts Council and the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District. Eight talented high school-age singers from the greater Dayton area were prepared by Basil Fett to join the Bach Society chorus in performing the April 11, 2010 concert. Some students came from Muse Machine-affiliated schools and others from Cappella, the regional high school honors choir of the Kettering Children’s Choir. Young people from Muse Machine schools and Muse school advisers attended the performance, at special ticket prices, to enhance their learning and enjoyment of the music. In addition, small ensembles of Bach Society choristers presented 30-minute interactive workshops on the key elements of Baroque music to nearly a hundred senior high choral music students at Stebbins and Centerville High Schools in February and March 2010. Music Director John Neely prepared a 22-page study guide focused on the repertoire for the April concert, which was made available to teachers of widely ranging subjects at the Muse Machine’s affiliated schools. John also acquainted high school educators with the essentials of Baroque organ music during the Muse Machine’s annual teacher/adviser training workshops in July 2009.
2008-2009 – THE MAGNIFICAT THROUGH ART, MUSIC, AND DANCE
The 2008-2009 season included two collaborative and outreach projects. The first involved a partnership with the Gem City Ballet in the performance of Peter Merz’s new ballet set to J.S. Bach’s choral masterpiece, the Magnificat. This project was supported by a generous grant from the Miriam Rosenthal Memorial Trust Fund. The second collaboration, “The Art of the Magnificat,” utilized the rich resources of the Marian Library at the University of Dayton for a multimedia presentation of art from two different eras in conjunction with the performances of both J.S. Bach and John Rutter’s settings of the Magnificat. The collaboration was funded in part by a grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District.
2007-2008 – PROJECT SING
The 2007-08 community outreach project entitled “Project Sing” was partially supported by a Learning and Partnership Grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Eight students from Xenia High School rehearsed and performed with the Bach Society chorus, soloists, and instrumentalists for the March 16, 2008 concert. The project enabled students to demonstrate their musical skills and gain experience with literature not normally performed by church or school groups. As a result, they not only deepened their knowledge of great choral music, but also learned about the possibilities and rewards of continuing to make music and perform beyond high school. The Xenia High School choirs, directed by Brent Manley, have been honored to sing in Washington, D.C. and New York City and have consistently received superior ratings at both district and state contests sponsored by the Ohio Music Educators Association.
2006-2007 – PROJECT SING
For the May 2007 concert featuring selections from Brahms’ Opus 52 Liebeslieder Waltzes, student chamber choirs from Wayne High School, Centerville High School, and Sinclair Community College joined in performance with the Bach Society chorus. Each of the student choirs also prepared one of the Liebeslieder Waltzes, which they performed on their own during the concert. This approach gave these students an invaluable learning experience through public performance of serious choral music, in a foreign language, in a professional environment, and gave the participating schools an opportunity to showcase their music programs. This outreach project was made possible through a grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District.
2005-2006 – COMMISSIONED WORK
In the 2005-2006 season, the Bach Society of Dayton undertook its first commissioning project with the support of an Ohio Arts Council Arts Innovation grant. Because it is important to focus on the rich talent within our own state, this new choral work was composed by an Ohio artist for performance by an Ohio chorus accompanied by Ohio guest artists for a largely Ohio audience. The composer was Dr. Donald Busarow, well-known Wittenberg University professor, composer, and performer. Our musical partners were the Carillon Brass, five of the most talented Dayton-area musicians, Ms. Jane Varella, former Principal Percussionist of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and Dr. R. Alan Kimbrough, organist and Bach Society of Dayton accompanist.
The commissioned work was “A Psalm Triptych” based upon Psalm 100 with three contrasting movements with a total length of about 15 minutes. We chose the text for its strong emotional content, and the other complementary musical forces to demonstrate the interplay between brass and voices as the centerpiece of a program of diverse musical styles. The commissioning also gave us a unique opportunity to reach out to young musicians and help them understand and appreciate serious choral music. For this part of the project, we collaborated with the faculty of the Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, offering selected Stivers students face-to-face contact with the composer and a “mini-master class” in composition.
2004-2005 – ST. JOHN PASSION PROJECT
The outreach project in the 2003-2004 season took place in conjunction with the Bach Society of Dayton’s performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion. Select students from The Muse Machine member schools participated in part of the performance and were introduced to Baroque performance practices through workshops. The performance of this major work with local musicians and modern instruments also attracted new audience members. The outreach goal was enhanced by a pre-concert lecture on the St. John Passion by former Dayton Bach Society music director and musicologist Dr. Richard Benedum. The involvement of the Muse Machine member schools helped increase our contribution to the Dayton arts community as a whole, while expanding our audiences. The project was funded in part by a grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District.
2003-2004 – “SING, MY SOUL” PROJECT
As part of its 2003-2004 concert season, the Bach Society of Dayton enlisted the services of prominent African-American regional soloists and university faculty members, plus a chamber orchestra of Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra players and other regional instrumentalists, to present a program of distinctly different but complementary sacred music. The primary goals for this project were to: expand the appreciation of classical choral music within the African-American community in the Miami Valley with a concert that included both traditional repertory (a Bach cantata) and targeted music (collection of spirituals); introduce minority youth to the positive role models of successful African-American artists; encourage these young people to attend the concert, with the hope of increasing attendance and interest on the part of the adults who accompanied them; and diversify the potential audience of the Bach Society of Dayton. The project’s educational component included development of classroom materials and a workshop demonstration by the Bach Society director, accompanist, four soloists, and members of the Bach Society chorus for Stivers High School choral/vocal students. The project was partially funded by a grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District.