Kudos to PG classical music critic Elizabeth Bloom and her desire to see more classical music organizations step outside the box and challenge their audiences with new and unusual presentations of the classics (“A Flurry of Wishes,” Jan. 1). This has been the goal of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh and its artistic director and conductor, Thomas W. Douglas, for the past nine years.
Here are just a few examples of the choir’s innovative takes on classical pieces. We performed Handel’s “Messiah” at the Hunt Armory with military vehicles surrounding the performance area — at one point the bass soloist sang from atop a Humvee and the soprano soloist from a 14-foot ladder. The choir presented “Carmina Burana Africana” with two grand pianos, an African percussion ensemble and interpretive dancers from the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble. Thomas Douglas created a vocal score for Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” which the choir performed at the New Hazlett Theater while local artists created paintings from catwalks above the stage.
We have premiered works in Pittsburgh such as “The Agnostic” by David Chesky, Bernstein’s “Mass” and “Alzheimer’s Stories” by Robert Cohen and librettist Herschel Garfein.
This season we continue to shake things up. Our October performances titled “Monster Mass” featured Bruckner’s Mass in E Minor and Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices. We incorporated a supernatural theme with the woodwind ensemble in costume and the choir in makeup. Our upcoming February concerts will juxtapose the requiems of Gabriel Faure and Maurice Durufle in a presentation we are calling “A Mass Affair — French Kiss.”
So, Pittsburghers looking for a change, check out the Bach Choir. You will discover that there is, in fact, something new and exciting happening in the local classical music scene.
BEVERLY G. FILTZ
Bach Choir of Pittsburgh