Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thoughts and Thank-Yous re: Cafe Bach

Last Sunday we in the Bach Cantata Choir presented our final event of the year, a fundraiser we called Cafe Bach. It was loads of fun, both for the choir and for the audience who really seemed to enjoy themselves. My colleague James Bash presented his review of the performance here at Northwest Reverb. Great thing about James; though we sing and work on writing projects together, he presents a balanced review: he calls it as he hears it, and I greatly appreciate that. Both from a performance and production standpoint, there were some things that could've gone better. There definitely were some ragged edges here and there, but given our rehearsal schedule (three, including dress, all of them within the last week) and the tight timeline we were presented with, and the myriad challenges in creating a singing cafe for the afternoon, I couldn't be more proud of the way our group came through.

I serve on the board of the BCC with a number of other hard-working folks whose tireless dedication to Bach's music serves as a shining example for me, one that I strive to follow. That coupled with serving on the Cafe Bach subcomittee (or the Koffee Kantata Kommittee as we have jokingly called it), preparing as a singer for the Carmina Burana production with the PSC and OSO, getting ready for re-auditions both with the BCC and the PSC, not to mention the work, family, and personal life that we all have, has really kept me hopping these past few months. Sometimes it can be easy to get mired in one's own work and overlook the incredible efforts of others, at least until the final result is played out right before one's very eyes.

Julie Adams, our leader of the Cafe Bach committee, is not even a member of the BCC and yet she put in countless hours working on everything from fine details such as picking out table cloths and creating a gorgeous menu, to making sure we had enough coffee and taking care of renting and returning carafes and pitchers. She deserves a big round of applause from all who enjoyed our presentation yesterday.

The staff at Rose City Park Presbyterian were extremely helpful and Woody Richen, a BCC board member and member of the church, served as our liaison along with our director Ralph Nelson, and it would not have been possible to do this without them.

Doro Gauer-Lail translated the entire text of two Telemann cantatas from German to English, as well as translated the recipes for the guglhupfs, obsttorte, and schokoladenkuchen (seen throughout this post in that order top to bottom) so that our talented bakers could provide authentic German pastries. In addition, Doro also baked obsttorte herself and coordinated our baking, all this despite having to travel to Malaysia on business in the midst of our preparations.

Grant Huter designed and created by hand and installed all of the decorations, from our gorgeously kitschy tomato-cage baroque chandelier to the glorious JS Bach crest and other adornments behind the stage, and many other things as well.

Sue Nelson coordinated all of the beautiful floral arrangements that adorned our tables, not to mention getting together costumes and baking as well as a myriad other tasks, some of which I'm sure I don't even know about.

Uwe Haefker left 'em rolling in the aisles as our beer-swilling, narcissistic Schoolmaster, and Nan Haemer and Jacob Herbert did no less as the quarrelling Father-Daughter duo in the Coffee Cantata. Thanks also to Byron Wright who brings his beautiful tenor to our BCC productions. Our BCC chamber orchestra performed professionally as always. Elise Groves stepped in at the last minute as our able accompanist, in addition to the many other ways she helped with this project.

Uwe Haefker

Byron Wright

Jacob Herbert and Nan Haemer

My girlfriend Kristin Sterling baked two delicious schokoladenkuchen, designed our mailer, helped set up, serve as an usher, and helped clean-up as well.

And virtually every chorister who sang also did double (or triple, quadruple, quintuple) duties as bakers, servers, cake-cutters, ushers, set-up crew, clean-up crew, etc. Even some choir members who weren't able to sing helped out in other ways or supported us as audience members. Friends and family members of the choir also baked and helped with the above-mentioned tasks. Board member Gail Durham, who wasn't able to attend due to being out of the country, helped us immeasurably with the early planning, and even baked 5 obsttorte before she left town.

And of course no one works harder than our indefatigable leader Ralph Nelson. He brings his many, many talents, in the form of artistic director, conductor, harpsichordist, president of the Board, organizer, coordinator and historian to bear on this immense task we have set ourselves, which is the performance of all of Bach's 250+ cantatas.

My heart was truly warmed watching the efforts of everyone mentioned above both by name or otherwise. This group is dedicated to performing the music of J.S. Bach, and not just to the actual singing: this extends to the very hard and thoughtful work of all the less-than-glorious tasks involved in running a performance ensemble. Everyone rolled up their sleeves yesterday. I'm constantly amazed by the diligence and resourcefulness of the members of this group.

A word needs to be said also for our audience, whose good taste and passion for Bach equal our own. We sold the house out and then some, and that couldn't happen if there weren't so many lovers of this fantastic music in our community. The BCC owes our audience a true debt of gratitude for the moral and financial support we receive.

I'm sure I've forgotten some important people and important tasks; please feel free to shout them out in the comments section after this posting. Once again, to everyone involved in any way, thank you.

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