Inspired by the musical comedy of Spike Jones and a British humorist named Gerald Hoffnung, I started presenting satirical concerts in the 1950’s at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, leading eventually to the first public P.D.Q. Bach concert, as it had come to be called, at New York’s Town Hall. Hard as it is to believe, it was 50 years ago that the music of P.D.Q. Bach first wormed its way into the ears of the unsuspecting public. P.D.Q. Bach was the twenty-first of Johann Sebastian Bach’s twenty children, and his music demonstrated the warped influences of his father as well as his contemporaries, Vivaldi, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. The concerts became an annual last-week-in-December tradition at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, presenting an ever-increasing array of original compositions attributed to “the scourge of Wein-am-Rhein.” People began to notice that one could actually learn something about 18th-century classical music from these misguided pieces, some of which have infiltrated classroom syllabi.
We think it's most fitting to commemorate this occasion with a special concert at Town Hall, where the first concert took place in 1965. We've picked a day, December 28th, and The Town Hall’s available, but what stands in the way is the cost of putting it together.
The Department of Music Pathology at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople has had some funding cuts, and we need your help to get this project off the ground and onto the stage. It costs money, a lot of money, to put on a concert: we have to rent the hall, pay the orchestra, stagehands and performers, print programs, hire a producer, rent sound equipment, etc. Even in the event of a sold-out show, professional classical orchestral concerts are perennial money losers, made possible by generous donations made to the orchestra and/or the presenting organization. In this case, we’re the presenting organization, and the orchestra will be one we hire, so we’re using Kickstarter to appeal directly to folks like you who like music and comedy. With your help, I think we can pull this off!
If we can raise the funding, the show can go on.
By the way, Kickstarter will only let you back once and we couldn't feasibly offer every combination of rewards, so if you would like to combine two or more reward packages, just pick the one that has a limited quantity available and pledge the combined amount of the packages and drop us a line letting us know what you want and we'll take care of you. That is, if you want a diploma ($100) and 2 premium tickets ($250), pick the tickets and pledge $350 and let us know and you'll get both. We tried to make sure that there are good packages available for both people who can make the concert and those who cannot, but that means if you want tickets and swag (which is a situation we'd be delighted with) you may have to design your own package in this way.
We plan to resuscitate a full evening of iconic works of P.D.Q. Bach with full orchestra on Monday, December 28, 2015 at 8 pm at The Town Hall in NYC.
P.D.Q. BACH: THE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY will include:
Peruckenstuck (Hairpiece) from "The Civilian Barber"
Swing Sweet, Low Chariot
New Horizons in Music Appreciation, a.k.a. Beethoven Sportscast
excerpts from Oedipus Tex
On hand to try to salvage these pieces will be your cultural guide Professor Peter Schickele, off-coloratura soprano Michèle Eaton, tenor profundo Brian Dougherty, and sportscast announcer Elliott Forrest, aided and abetted by The New York Pick-Up Ensemble, under the none-too-steady baton of semi-conductor Jorge Mester.
Risks and challenges
While programming and performing this sort of concert is a familiar activity (after 50 years, I hope we've learned a thing or two about it!), we've never before attempted to self-present an orchestra concert in New York. There are a host of challenges associated with this, ranging from making sure there are enough stands and chairs onstage to getting enough busy New Yorkers to commit to taking the time from their busy schedules to actually fill the house.
We have an excellent team ready to take on these challenges, however, who combine years of experience with presenting and publicizing classical concerts in New York, so we're confident that we can meet the production challenges. And, of course, if you buy tickets pre-sale through this campaign, you're already helping us guarantee a good house, and we're confident that if we can raise the money, 50 years of experience will be put to good use in creating a successful concert.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)