Bach marathon tickles cortical columns

22 straight hours of Bach’s organ music. All of it. That was the program for BachWerke (7MB PDF program), an ambitious program put on by the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and St. Cyril of Jerusalem Church last weekend.

The organ (pictured above; larger picture), with 3 manuals and 45 ranks, was built by Rosales Organ Builders, a local company also responsible for the astonishing instrument at the new Disney Concert Hall (picture).

The marathon was good for some serious cortical column manipulation. Saturday evening we were blessed to hear the playing of Bob Mitchell (article), a 93-year-old who got his start accompanying silent movies on the organ.

Although not too steady on his feet and a bit stooped, Bob was transformed as he took his seat on the bench. Playing the Fugue in G Minor (“Little”), the notes hard-wired into his gnarled fingers, he flooded the church with Bach’s ethereal harmonies, transporting listeners beyond time and space.

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