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Newlyweds play Bach in free concert tonight at Westminster on Delaware

If you Google lists of “top ten classical composers” you will find that Bach is on everyone’s list. Everyone’s. Modern composers study Bach to learn how to write music. Musicians warm up with some Bach every day to ease into their groove. Audiences “get” Bach because Johann Sebastian Bach still speaks to everyone. And even though it’s been about 300 years since he wrote a concerto for two violin soloists and small orchestra, it will speak to you tonight at 7:30 at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Delaware Avenue. Bach, who was always trying to feed his many children on a meager church organist’s salary, would appreciate that the concert is free.

Bach, who was always trying to feed his many children on a meager church organist’s salary, would appreciate that the concert is free.

Don’t know the work? The problem is that most modern concert promoters don’t schedule the Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. It’s too short (under 15 minutes) to fly in a top name soloist, and besides, you need two. And, if you’re going to pay them for the gig, don’t you want more than 15 minutes of music?  What you need is a clever conductor/music director who can pair it with something else. For example, in 2001 JoAnn Falletta hired a violinist and a switch hitter who could play violin and viola, so that they could play the Bach Double and a famous double concerto by Mozart. In 2009 she hired a husband and wife team, Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony, to play the Bach and then Gil played the Carmen Fantasy.

Well, the Western New York Chamber Orchestra has their own wily Conductor/Music Director, Glen Cortese, who has invited Michael Ludwig, for many years the Concertmaster (#1 violin, if you will) of the BPO. And, it turns out, Michael was recently married to another violinist, Rachael Ludwig. Hey, one call does it all.

MICHAEL-and-Rachael-Ludwig-for-webSince first meeting Rachael with Michael when she was a substitute violinist at BPO concerts several years ago to visiting with them shortly after their arrival in town this week, the impression is that they are a very cute couple. They are totally keyed on each other which is exactly what you need from musicians who play chamber music. You have to be totally committed. And the other thing that strikes you is their regard for the late violinist, Irving Ludwig, Michael’s father and first teacher and, until Rachael, the only person with whom Michael had ever played the Bach Double. It doesn’t matter who tells the story, Michael or Rachael, the emotion is right there. And that’s what you need to play Bach. A big heart.

Bach had a big heart, but he also knew a thing or two about concert scheduling. And so does Glen Cortese who has asked the happy couple to form an impromptu string quartet with the principal violist and cellist of the WNYCO so that they can play Cortese’s Concerto for String Quartet and String Orchestra. Both Rachael and Michael are very big on this piece which Rachael describes as “very wide open, like the music of Aaron Copland.”

The free concert will also include a work by Michael Haydn (Franz Joseph Haydn’s six-year younger brother) called the Saint Aloysius Mass which will feature the voices of the SUNY Fredonia Women’s Choir. The Western New York Chamber Orchestra’s free concert will be at 7:30 tonight, April 1, 2016, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Avenue (between North and Summer). It’s not a religious event; it’s just a concert. Admission is free and it’s open to anyone and everyone.

The concert repeats on Sunday at SUNY Fredonia at 4:00 p.m. but for that, while students with ID get in free, adult tickets will cost $22 on Sunday.

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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