Kendra Colton's Speech
at the Final Concert of the Bach Institute 2014

Good evening, my name is Kendra Colton and I would like to welcome you to tonight’s concert. This evening marks the final day of the Bach Institute that began in the midst of a wintry polar vortex and is now closing with yet another polar blast. Thank you for braving the weather to be with us tonight. The goal of the Bach Institute is to infect young musicians with the same passion we at Emmanuel feel for the wondrous beauty and challenging complexity found in the awe-inspiring chamber music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas. This year our participants are students from Oberlin College and Conservatory, Harvard University, Boston University, New England Conservatory, and the Longy School of Music.

In order for this program to flourish, a large community of supporters has been enlisted.  The program lists our contributors but I want to add my personal thanks to Dr. Peter Libby and Dr. Beryl Benacerraf, the Klarman Foundation, and Oberlin College for your critical financial support.  

Housing our out-of-town students in Boston is a special challenge because the length of the program is much longer than most people would dream of having their own relatives visit. What’s more, they do not even know the people who will be under foot, and so they take a leap of faith that I will invite quality human beings. So to Anne and Sean Gavin, John and Gretchen Graef, Cynthia Livingston and Dick Shader, Eban and Sara Kunz, Carla Rothaus and Eric Printz, and to new hosts Diana Post and Hal Churchill, and Susan and Frank Kelley, I offer my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Institute and the students.

Another vital community supporter of the Bach Institute is Emmanuel Church. I’d like to thank Pam Werntz and the church for generously offering this space for the duration of the program.  

To Kate Kush and all members of the Emmanuel Music Board, Ryan Turner, artistic director, and Pat Krol, executive director I say thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm for this program.

The program this year has some impressive statistics:

The faculty of 9 who interacted with our students has collectively performed more than 230 years of cantatas at Emmanuel Church. I guess that would explain why we are all so opinionated… we have had lots of time to digest this music.  

The faculty of 9 offered approximately 100 man-hours of group or private coaching in one week. At times, teachers simultaneously descended on different elements of an ensemble, addressing specific issues pertaining to the individual instrument or voice.  We had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, so we double or triple teamed the students to get it done.

3 lectures by Pam Dellal offered insight into the Emmanuel weekend cantatas, and her masterclass on singing Bach recitative was another important contribution to the Institute.

Last Sunday, an in-depth presentation about cantata 78 by John Harbison was very interesting, not only because he knows everything, but also because he heightened our awareness from a composer’s perspective into what Bach’s compositional challenges and choices were.

With all of the teaching, lecturing, and practicing necessary to prepare for tonight’s concert, it’s hard to imagine that there was time for the students to do anything else, but indeed they did! These students performed 14 times during the 17 days of the Institute. They performed the Emmanuel weekend cantatas, preludes before the Emmanuel service, Winsor Music outreach concerts at retirement communities, children's concerts at the Mather School in Dorchester, and participated in the presentations by John Harbison and Pam Dellal. In their free time, they went to the BSO, attended an exciting concert at Jordan Hall presented by A Far Cry, and saw Emmanuel’s A Little Night Music on Sunday. If you hosts didn’t see the students very much, now you know why!

Before I relinquish the podium to Ryan, who chose tonight’s cantata and worked intensely with the students amidst rehearsals of A Little Night Music, I need to thank two more people. One is Peggy Pearson and her Winsor Music liaisons for providing the venues where the students could fine-tune tonight’s performance. I also need to thank Peggy for keeping me on track organizationally. I couldn’t do it without her experience and help. The other very important person is Pat Krol, who is the ultimate energizer bunny and makes all good things happen. I feel very fortunate to have her magic wand working for us.

And finally, the fabulous faculty. (Last week I would have said fantastic faculty, but I wore out fantastic on the students.) To the faculty, thank you for your commitment, passion, time, opinions, and faith that we would all agree, or agree to disagree, on how we wanted to help the students take ownership of this great music. It is my privilege and honor to have such esteemed colleagues and friends as musical partners.

And now Ryan Turner, Emmanuel Music’s conductor and artistic director will lead Cantata 78.