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About This Festival

Previous Location

First Lutheran Church of Boston|299 Berkeley St, Boston, MA | Map

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From the Organizer

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is unquestionably the high water mark of the Lutheran musical tradition. Every year on the Saturday closest to Bach’s birthday, The First Lutheran Church of Boston celebrates this musical giant with the Boston Bach Birthday celebration. Begun in 2009, this exciting event consists of a day-long celebration of Bach and his music, both sacred and secular. While the day’s programs center around the outstanding Richards, Fowkes & Co. organ that graces First Lutheran’s nave, the Boston Bach Birthday additionally features talented instrumentalists and vocalists from the Boston area in solo, chamber, and ensemble performances. Naturally, the majority of music performed is predominantly Bach’s own, though music by Bach’s contemporaries and music that reflects Bach’s influence also finds a place. An event geared towards children and their families always takes place in the morning—such as an organ performance of Peter and the Wolf, Casey at the Bat, or the accompaniment of a silent movie—along with an opportunity for children to visit the organ console. The day frequently includes an address given by a prominent Bach scholar, such as Christoph Wolff or Robin Leaver. The day’s events end with a Vespers service modeled after those services Bach himself led at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig in the 1730s, featuring one of Bach’s cantatas accompanied by a period orchestra. An authentic German lunch is served in the church undercroft for patrons who wish to take part. No events are cross-scheduled with the lunch, so nobody misses out on any music. Admission is free to the entire day’s worth of events, and patrons are welcome to come and go as they please. The Boston Bach Birthday is sponsored by First Lutheran and the Boston chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Past years have also featured the sponsorship of 99.5 WCRB Boston, and in 2013 the entire day’s events were broadcast live on the radio.