William McGlaughlin and the Bach Aria Soloists are “Inspired by Bach”
William McGlaughlin is sentimental about Kansas City. “The look of the town, the rolling hills, the Missouri River and the Flint Hills further out in Kansas, it’s a beautiful place with the nicest people.” As artistic director and conductor of the Kansas City Symphony from 1986 to 1998 he educated as well an entertained the classical music community with award winning, innovative programming. “Kansas City is an amazing town for music.”
When I asked Bill McGlauglin, now a resident of New York City, what he’s been doing lately he chuckled, “Bothering musicians.” Composing, conducting and educating audiences around the world, McGLaughlin’s life is inextricably linked to the players with whom he works. His latest collaboration brings him back to his old stomping grounds in Kansas City where he will be “hosting” a concert with the Bach Aria Soloists.
As host of the Peabody award winning, St. Paul Sunday Morning, he invited the world’s best musicians into his studio for an intimate chat. “People want to know how music is done” says McGlaughlin, “and musicians are so articulate.” He speculates that as teachers, musicians know how to demystify music to make it understandable and McGlaughlin is one of the best teachers in the business. For over 25 years, McGlaughlin’s unpretentious style broke down the barrier between listener and participant.
His passion for getting to the heart of great music is still as strong as ever. He has a daily show on WQXR called Exploring Music where he examines a theme each week and curates a thoughtful collection of insights and inspiring music. He is also developing a concert series at Bryant Park. “I’ve been calling up my old friends like Mark O’Connor and the Imani Winds.” His long time partner and three time Grammy winning jazz artist, Karrin Allyson (who I remember from her gigs at the Phoenix Bar and Grill in the early 1990’s) will also be on board.
Elizabeth Suh Lane, Executive-Artistic director of the Bach Aria Soloists, knew that bringing McGlaughlin back to Kansas City would be an exciting venture. Celebrating their 10th year of ground-breaking music making, the Bach Aria Soloists built their reputation on being a unimposing and accessible ensemble. “Our house concerts are an intimate venue where performers and audience can converse.” The relaxed vibe allows curious concert goers to ask the questions that pop into their minds as they are listening. “He has such a great style and approach. He speaks directly to the audience.”
According to Lane, The concert at Village Presbyterian Church will be like sitting in the old St. Paul Sunday Morning studio. Bill will prepare the listeners and the ensemble will play. “We’re looking forward to hearing Bill’s engaging stories and anecdotes. A dialogue can take place onstage.” says Lane.
In addition to pieces by Bach, the program features composers who were influenced by Bach, “Which is just about everyone“she laughs. Beau Bledsoe will join her for guitar transcriptions of Bach preludes and local favorite Rebecca Lloyd will sing Villa Lobos’ popular Cantilena from his Bachianas Brasileiras. Harpsichordist/organist, Elisa Blickers will be performing and improvisation on a baroque chorale. Lane will also be performing two movements of the beautiful but excruciatingly difficult, Bartok Solo Sonata for Violin. “Playing this piece is such a thrill.”
As for Bill McGlaughlin, he’s happy to come back and see old friends. When asked where he thinks Classical music is headed he quickly responds. “It’s exploding. More people are listening to classical music than ever before.” Technology is helping people access wider varieties of music through on-line radio, iTunes, websites and podcasts. Applications are invented everyday that help link listeners to classical music. But listening to the music on-site, with live performers in real time is still a joy to be treasured. Getting to interact and engage in person with the players is priceless.