Allan Kozinn’s June 17 review of Emily Isaacson’s Portland Bach Experience (Page B4), while appropriately wondering about how much Bach in fact is there this year, completely misses the point of the festival.

He bemoans that the Experience “is heavy on … brunch and beer concerts … and family attractions, like a musical instrument petting zoo and a class where dance moves are used to teach children about music.”

He goes on, cringing, to quote from the Bach Experience website: “Children are encouraged to hear (the Cello) Suites 3 and 4 as inspiration for dance or narrative play.” He is thereafter comforted that the Monteverdi Vespers concert “thankfully was presented as it ought to be – in a straightforward performance at a church with fairly good acoustics.”

What is he thinking? Portland Bach Experience’s fundamental objective is, through creative and exciting programming, to bring baroque and other music of the very highest quality to a broad audience, young and old, throughout the Portland area. In addition to traditional venues, that means bringing music to private home salons, restaurants, art galleries, the Portland Museum of Art, public parks, the Customs House, beer halls, bowling alleys and other public places. And, yes, that implies an informal audience moving around as they enjoy the music and, of course, some “ambient noise,” just as it did with Bach and his Collegium Musicum at Zimmermann’s Coffee House in Leipzig in the 1730s.

June 18’s Bach and Beer at the Customs House attracted over 300 people, many of whom are new to classical music.

This approach to presenting classical music is unique in Portland and is to be much admired. So why doesn’t Kozinn recognize and honor this?

Peter Griffin


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