Johann S. Bach comes to Beaver Island
"The family that plays together, stays together." This familiar saying took on new and delightful dimensions Sunday, July 28th when J.S. Bach and friends offered an evening of music to appreciative Islanders. Eight of the nineteen musicians in the Instrumental Ensemble came from two families! Director Charles Krutz must have been delighted to perform with his daughter, Holly Lutz (violin), his grand-daughter, Katie Lutz (cello) and three other grandchildren: Tim, Anna, and Elizabeth Lutz.
John (bass) and Sandy (flute) Gerrish have three children who came to the island for the event: Philip (violin), Deborah (viola), and Elizabeth (cello). Ivan Suminski, one of the Gerrish's grandchildren, also participated. One can't help but speculate about what holiday events must be like for these two musical families. Imagine retiring to the living room after Thanksgiving dinner for several Bach minuets played by violinists spanning three generations!
In spite of the intense heat, more than 125 people crowded into St. James Episcopal Mission church for Sunday night's performance. Folks trying to beat the heat lined the wheelchair ramp and a few clever souls brought chairs and enjoyed the music while sitting on the lawn.
The breeze outside must have been wonderful but it would have been a shame to miss the visual aspect of the concert. Professor Krutz portrayed J.S. Bach, dressed in a white, curled wig, red cutaway coat and knickers, long white stockings, and a shirt with lace collar and cuffs. Bach's trunk contained many unusual and ancient musical instruments, including the zink and several lovely brass horns. Meistro Krutz played them all!
Charles Krutz has had a long-standing love affair with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach; in 1985, he toured in a one-man show, portraying Bach in 240 concerts in 36 states. Since then he has continued tours with a Bach Aria Group and a Chamber Music Ensemble on the Nebraska Arts Council Touring Artists Program. Mr. Krutz's choice to bring "Bach to Beaver" has evolved from his regular visits to Beaver Island during the last 25 years. Charles is a life-long friend of summer residents Marty and Jane Maehr.
Seeing Bach in the "flesh" was surely memorable but the highlight of the evening was the Three Minuets from the Anna Magdalena Notebook, performed by four of the Gerrish and Lutz grandchildren. These young people played flawlessly and with amazing concentration! Ivan Suminski (age 5) was an inspiration!
Other musicians in the instrumental ensemble included Jason Economides and his wife, Patty Baser, both members of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Beaver Island's own Joe Moore (a former member of the Grand Rapids Symphony)added his talents to the violin section, and claims he hasn't had so much fun in years. P.J. Neihaus played the flugelhorn on one number and Jane Maehr contributed her piano playing skills on the continuo. Jeanne Howell was the event coordinator as well as one of the flautists. Thank you, Jeanne, for all your work, and thanks to all the musicians for contributing their time and talents to bring such a wonderful musical event to the Island.
Any performance of music by J.S. Bach must include choral selections. A group of Island singers made up a choir, and after four rehearsals with Mr. Lutz they made a lovely presentation of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," "Now thank we all Our God," and "Alleluia" from Cantata No. 79. Marianne Weaver, one of the sopranos in the chorus, presented "Sheep May Safely Graze." Her clear, pure voice was suited to that lovely selection. Other chorus members were: Soprano: Christy Albin, Annette Dashiell, and Krys Lyle; Alto: Peg Hoogandorn, Doris Larson, Judi Meisster, and Jean Palmer; Tenor: Bill Detwiler, Bob Hoogandorn and Chris VanLooy; Bass: Phil Becker, Martin Maehr, P.J. Neihaus, and Earl Seger.
Don Vyse, Citizen of the Year, acted as M.C. for the evening, engaging in dialogue with Bach prior to each selection. There were even a few unrehearsed jokes, and Bach drew a chuckle with a comment about politicians. The five Brandenburg Concertos were lovely but "Air" (Suite No. 3 in D Major) and "Sinfonia" (from Cantata No. 29) were so entrancing that members of the audience could understand the quote from H. Walcha which was printed in the program, "Bach opens a vista to the universe. After experiencing him, people feel there is a meaning to life after all.
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