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Prof. Peter Schickele marks the 50th anniversary of the first P.D.Q. Bach concert with a special concert at Town Hall, Dec. 28, 2015.
Prof. Peter Schickele marks the 50th anniversary of the first P.D.Q. Bach concert with a special concert at Town Hall, Dec. 28, 2015.
438 backers pledged $53,294 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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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.

The Concert

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
Uptown Hoedown

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.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Our eternal gratitude, and your name listed on the official P.D.Q Bach website as a backer.

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    Your name listed in concert program and on the website.

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    All of the above, plus an official “U of S.N.D. at H” bumper sticker

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    A copy of the concert program mailed to you (with your name listed therein as a backer), plus your name on our website.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A short manuscript note, signed by the Prof, suitable for framing, plus your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A souvenir 11x17 duplicate of the concert poster, identical to the one which will hang outside Town Hall the night of the concert, plus your name listed on the website and in the concert program.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    One Tier 2 (side orchestra or front balcony, e.g.) ticket for the December 28 anniversary concert (face value $60), plus your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A “Graduate of The School of Musical Pathology at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople” diploma, and your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Two Tier 3 (rear balcony) tickets for the December 28 anniversary concert (face value $40 each), and your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Pair of Tier 2 tickets (side orchestra or front balcony) for the December 28 anniversary concert (face value $60 each), and your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    VIP Ticket Package: 2 premium tickets (center orchestra) for the December 28 anniversary concert (face value $75 each), one “U of S.N.D. at H” bumper sticker, and your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A souvenir 11x17 duplicate of the concert poster, signed by Prof. Schickele, Maestro Jorge Mester, soloists Michele Eaton and Brian Dougherty, Announcer Elliott Forrest, and Manager of the Stage William Walters, plus your name in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    Commemorative photo book: 50 Years of P.D.Q. Bach. A lovingly compiled photo retrospective of 50 years of P.D.Q. Bach, with rare behind-the-scenes photos and moments from the inimitable live shows, and your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Lunch with Peter Schickele. One seat at an intimate lunch at The Prof’s favorite diner on the Upper West Side at date to be arranged. We’ll do this one twice -- four spots available at each, plus your name listed in the concert program and on the website.

    If you'd like to have two spots, please pick this reward and donate $1000 and we'll take care of you.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    I love you, but I can't make the show. One personally dedicated photo book, one diploma in musical pathology, and 2 bumperstickers, plus your name on the website and in the concert program.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    I'll take one of each, please. 2 premium tickets ($75 face value each), one photo book, one musical pathology diploma, and 2 bumperstickers, plus your name listed on the website and in the concert program. At this level, Prof. Schickele will personally dedicate your photo book.

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    A personalized round, composed and recorded by Peter Schickele, 2 premium tickets for to the concert, a diploma in musical pathology, and your name listed in the concert program and on the website. You will receive an original signed manuscript copy plus a digital recording.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    A P.D.Q. Bach chamber concert at your home, a diploma in musical pathology, and your name listed in the concert program, plus your name listed in the concert program and on the website, and 4 premium tickets to the concert.

    Some fine print: please note that to redeem this reward you must have a grand piano (baby grand okay) in your home (or the location where you want the concert, which needn't be your home but must be a private venue), and must be within 150 miles of New York City.

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Funding period

- (30 days)