The Bethlehem Bach Choir and their many different spheres of activity are all about J. S. Bach, but other related composers, some of whom are internationally renowned and some still in high school, are also allowed to come in. Outside of this special community, even during the time between the end of his career and the Bach renaissance of the second quarter of the 19th century, Bach was never totally forgotten. His magnetism drew in Mozart, Beethoven and others, as well as post-renaissance composers like Brahms and Bruckner...on to the 20th century in Busoni and the composers of the Second Viennese School. A little fast driving enabled me to experience both an old tradition reaching back before Mendelssohn, as well as a newer one, in which Bach could be partnered with Anton Webern—this at one of Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima's marvelous WA Concerts.
Some of the most rewarding musical experiences I have enjoyed this season have been with small chamber organizations of recent mint. It is no coincidence that all three of the concert series feature ambitious offerings of food and drink. As Ruth Sommers, founder and director of yet another series, Festival Chamber Music, which I have already discussed in these pages, the rationale for this is as much social as culinary. She attributes the extraordinary success of her series in part to this social element, and the series discussed here are no less successful and equally lively as an environment to meet like-minded people, including the musicians. This does in fact enhance the music directly, as only conversation can. As for the food and drink, I can say all are excellent, without going so far as to review them, as if they were restaurants. The point is the social encounter, which above all helps attract newcomers to classical concerts and does wonders in making the events more relaxed and fun for everybody.