OGDEN — “Ah, Bach.”
That line from a classic “MASH” episode — uttered when Hawkeye tries to help Radar impress a new nurse who is well-versed in classical music — is all one needs to say about next week’s Ogden Bach Fest.
Still, Chamber Orchestra Ogden music director Michael Palumbo is happy to elaborate on the inaugural festival.
“Without using a whole bunch of terms that people tend to bandy around, like ‘sublime,’ let me just say that Bach’s music is wonderful,” Palumbo said.
Presented by Onstage Ogden (formerly Ogden Symphony Ballet Association), the 2019 Ogden Bach Fest will offer three concerts and a couple of other presentations and activities. All events are free.
The schedule of concerts and events includes:
• Bach lecture and mini-concert by Carey Campbell, 7 p.m. Monday, April 8, at Weber County Library, 2464 Jefferson Ave., Ogden
• Concert with Chamber Orchestra Ogden, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at Holy Family Catholic Church, 1100 E. 5550 South, South Ogden
• “Bach for Kids,” 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, Treehouse Children’s Museum, 347 22nd St., Ogden
• Concert with NEXT Ensemble, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 3329 Harrison Blvd., Ogden
• Concert with Weber State University Choir, 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, Ogden Tabernacle, 2145 Washington Blvd., Ogden
Concerts during the festival will feature such Johann Sebastian Bach pieces as the Brandenburg Concertos, and Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Works by Debussy, Vivaldi and Ysaye will highlight Bach’s influence on other composers, and a world premiere of a new work for organ by Ogden’s Alfonso Tenreiro will also be included in the festival.
Palumbo said the idea for the first-year festival came from Andrew Watson, outreach and special events coordinator with Onstage Ogden. They were going to try to start the festival last year, but it ended up being “too much too late,” according to Palumbo. So they moved it to this year.
Palumbo said that, particularly toward the end of his life, Bach was considered an old-fashioned composer.
“All the other composers had moved on, but he never did that,” Palumbo said. “He stuck with exactly what he’d done.”
As a result, when Bach died his music was “pretty much undiscovered,” Palumbo says.
Despite the fact Bach didn’t chase other musical styles, Palumbo says there’s great variety in his compositions.
“What I’ve found in listening to, and playing — and even singing — Bach’s works, there so much variety in his music,” he said. “You can’t find any better representation of all the music that was done during that time.”
And one of the things that’s most impressive about Bach is the quality of his music across the board, according to Palumbo.
“Everything he did was a masterpiece,” he said. “I’d say most great composers had music they would rather not have heard — that wasn’t up to the level of other things they wrote. You can find some really weak music by most great composers. But there wasn’t anything like that with Bach.”
Palumbo also said you can’t just hold a Bach festival anywhere you want. It requires some specific equipment.
“One thing, you can’t have a Bach Fest unless you have good organs to play,” Palumbo said. “And the Tabernacle organ is an excellent organ. It may not be quite what they have in Salt Lake, but it’s pretty darn good. And the organ at Holy Family is also quite good.”
Ogden Bach Fest is presented in association with NEXT Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra Ogden, and the Weber State University Choral Department.
For more information, call Onstage Ogden at 801-399-9214.