Bach in the dark.

In the way that Baroque painting creates a tapestry of vivid light and intense shadow, cellist and music educator Rachel Scott brings light to the music of Bach with her concert series titled “Bach in the Dark”. The next Sydney performances are scheduled for June 25th and 26th in the crypt of St James Church, King Street, with two regional concerts.

The concept began 18 months ago with one performance of each programme. It has mushroomed (in the dark, of course!) to four performances of each programme – 2 in Sydney, one in Robertson and one in Katoomba. Scott likes to keep her concerts intimate. Notwithstanding that, they are sell outs.

In his book “The Cello Suites” , Eric Siblin observes that before Pable Casals, “cellists did not fill concert halls, the cello itself was not seen as an important solo instrument…Casals reinvented the cello.”  This renaissance was spearheaded with Casals’ rendition of  JS Bach’s  Cello Suites.

However, Scott hasn’t limited her repertoire to Bach for solo cello. Her programmes have expanded to small ensembles with flute, harp and voice, then instruments from other genres. She now includes Bach inspired re-inventions in her programming, like the Bachianas Brasilierasof Villa Lobos, and she is on the brink of commissioning four Australian composers to write for her. Rafaele Marcellino, Ben Sibson and Martin Wesley-Smith are three of the composers announced by Scott, whilst the name of the fourth is still under wraps.

How has this intense affiliation with Bach affected her interpretation? “My technique is improved and I am playing Bach more easily and more joyously.  Sharing this music with 70 or so people for 60 minutes is tremendously affirming to know that it speaks to people in the way it speaks to me, and that I am not playing in a vacuum”.

Scott’s audiences range from primary schoolers to seniors. She has deliberately chosen to speak to them casually, to lose the “stuffiness” of classical music concerts. Incidentally, Bach in the Dark is a rare opportunity to enjoy a concert in the crypt at St James.

So – grab a glass of wine and settle into the intimacy of the performance.  Whilst the acoustic is perfect, the sight lines are not – but then, who needs to see when all you need is to let go in the dark, listen and immerse yourself in the genius of JS Bach?

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