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Bach Day WCS Wells Cathedral School Independent Prep Somerset England

Bach Day

On Tuesday 6th February, we featured J.S. Bach in a day-long celebration of his music installed in the wonderful Gothic spaces of Wells Cathedral. Bach’s work is of fundamental technical and musical importance for all instrumentalists and singers at every stage of their development, and Wells pupils rose to the occasion magnificently.

From 9.30am onwards, the Cathedral reverberated from the Nave to the Chapter House with over twelve hours of Bach performances that included a superb organ recital from Old Wellensian Francois Cloete (2021), a massed Come and Sing event involving over 100 singers from local communities and a talk given by internationally acclaimed cellist and Bach specialist, OW David Watkin (1983). We were also treated to fantastic performances from visiting OW musicians Seijin Yoon (2021), Izzy Nettle (2022) and Julian Chan (2018), who represented the next generation of OWs going on to dazzle in the music profession.

Wells pupils young and old, the Specialist and the simply enthusiastic, showed off the versatility of Bach as a composer throughout the day, with performances including piano and harpsichord in the North Transept; complete and impressive solo string partitas for violin and cello in the Chapter House; marimba and vibraphone transcriptions in the South Transept and brass ringing out from the Nave. Our Chorister of the Year, Belinda (Year 8), sang as part of the Vocal Department and we even showed off Bach played by saxophone quartet and double-reed ensemble! Visitors and local people alike were enthralled as they explored the building to this entrancing soundtrack. The Cathedral Choir rounded off the daytime events with a special Bach evensong.

In the evening glorious performances of Bach’s Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin alongside the Brandenburg Concertos 4 and 5 provided the programme for the Early Music Promenade Concert which deservedly received a standing ovation from the audience. A fabulous day with people of all ages and all walks of life coming together to celebrate the music of one of the greatest composers the world has ever known.

Alex Laing, Director of Music, comments, “It was an incredible community day! So much going on: Prep School virtuosi performances; a cantata evensong featuring the Choristers, Vicars Choral and School instrumentalists; an evening reception for OWs; a Come and Sing Bach which had over 100 local amateur singers rocking the Cathedral; and a simply fabulous closing concert featuring three of Bach’s greatest concerti. It was wonderful to see music bring everyone together.”