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Bach Festival's Big Sing is big hit

By APRILL BRANDON
June 8, 2010 at 1:08 a.m.

Victoria Bach Festival artistic director Craig Hella Johnson calls upon the audience to make "joyful noise "and "music from the body" at the first Bach Festival event held at the First United Methodist Church on Tuesday.

2010 Victoria Bach Festival schedule

Wednesday

10:30 a.m.: New Young Artists at the Library, Victoria Public Library, 302 N. Main St., free admission

Noon: 35th Anniversary Celebration concert, First United Methodist Church, 407 N. Bridge St., free admission

7:30 p.m.: Ecstatic Expressions, Leo J. Welder Center, 214 N. Main St., Tickets $20/$15/$10

Thursday

Noon: New Young Artists Concert, First United Methodist Church, 407 N. Bridge St., free admission

7:30 p.m.: Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, First United Methodist Church, 407 N. Bridge St., Tickets $20/$15/$10

Friday

Noon: Arrrtistry and Piracy Concert, First United Methodist Church, 407 N. Bridge St., free admission

7:30 p.m.: Celebrating Chopin: Melissa Marse in Concert, Victoria College Auditorium, 2200 E. Red River St., Tickets $20/$15/$10

Saturday

Noon: Film "Bach and Friends," Victoria Public Library, 302 N. Main St., free admission

7:30 p.m.: J.S. Bach: Mass in B Minor, Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 4102 N. Ben Jordan St., Tickets $30/$25/$20

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 361-570-5788 or go to www.victoriabachfestival.org.

Many people enjoy the Victoria Bach Festival because they get to listen to great music. On Tuesday, however, those listeners got to become a part of the great music.

The week-long festival kicked off at noon Tuesday with a concert titled Big Sing. Led by Grammy-nominated artistic director Craig Hella Johnson, the concert turned the audience into the choir.

"We are all here to make sounds. Sounds from our heart. There is no judgment here; we're just here to experiment," Johnson said as he welcomed the crowd. "As Bernice Johnson Reagon once said, 'When we sing, we announce our existence.'"

Johnson started with breathing and vocal exercises and then later led the audience through a variety of songs and styles, from spiritual songs to classical choral arrangements to the humorous.

One of the highlights for many in the audience was the "Star Wars Round," which took the melody of "Frere Jacques" and replaced the words with the names of Star Wars characters R2D2, C3PO, Obi Wan Kenobi and Han Solo.

With it being the inaugural year for the participatory concert, Johnson said he has big hopes to make the event a Bach festival tradition.

"Our hope is that in a few years, we'll have 500 to 1,000 people coming together to make sounds," he said.

Overall, Big Sing seemed to be a big hit with the crowd, audience member Abigail Lennox said.

"It was great, especially since people in the audience were really getting into it. We got to sing and use our bodies," she added. "It doesn't matter if you can sing or not, you just get to do it."

The Victoria Bach Festival continues the rest of this week through Saturday, with concerts at noon and 7:30 p.m. every day at various locations throughout the city. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 361-570-5788 or go to www.victoriabachfestival.org.

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