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Kipp Cortez: BACH IN THE SUBWAYS

By Amy Ahern and Tyler D'Angelo
On March 30, 2017

 

The 2,182 pipe organ that Cortez used for his performance.

Photo By Amy Ahern

On March 21, Dr. Kipp Cortez, Assistant Professor of Music of Concord University, performed a Faculty Organ Recital featuring works by Johann Sebastian Bach at Beckley Presbyterian Church, W.Va. The recital was held in honor of Bach’s 332nd birthday where a “spontaneous, global community of musicians unites to sow the seeds for future generations of classical music lovers and share their joy and inspiration for their art form,”according to bachinthesubways.org. 

    Cortez explained that the recital was a part of two things. “[The] first thing was my faculty recital I gave here at Concord. As a faculty member, I give regular performances. The other part of it is a part of the ‘Bach in the Subways’ movement,” he said. He also gives history on the movement saying it was began in 2011 by a gentleman named, Dale Henderson, who took his cello onto a subway platform in New York City. As people were getting on and off trains, Henderson would play the music of Bach on the cello, making sure that it was free and available to people. Cortez says that this sparked a fire where a lot of performers and ensembles have got together to give free performances of Bach in public places. He says these performances happen all over the world and his performance was one of the first to be given in W.Va. as part of the “Bach in the Subways” movement. 

    Upon hearing about this movement, Cortez states he knew he wanted to participate right away. “When I found out that this would be the first ‘Bach in the Subways’ movement in West Virginia, I thought, ‘This needs to happen,’ and it made sense [because] it gives us a sense of being connected with others who are experiencing something similar around the world,” says Cortez. With hard work and practice, Cortez was prepared to take part in this historical movement. He says that due to the fact he was working closely with people who attended the church, it was not as strenuous as it could have been. 

    With several community members witnessing this historic movement, many Concord students and faculty came in support of Cortez. Margaret Jusiel, Concord’s Professor of Music comments how thrilled she was that Cortez was playing on this particular organ. “I actually was very excited that Kipp was playing on this particular organ because I get a visual as well! His performances tend to be emotional and want to bring out emotion in you so when you’re listening to it there’s just the right amount of vibrato; there’s just the right amount of time, and his timing is very good. It was very enjoyable and you can tell he puts a lot into it when you listen to him play” Jusiel says, “It was really neat to hear an all Bach concert,  because there’s this common thread of Bach going on throughout the whole concert, and yet each piece was a little different just enough to peak your interest. If Bach were here today I think he would be blown away.”

    As for Cortez, his ultimate goal for the evening was to emphasize the importance of this event. “I want to emphasize that this was the first ‘Bach in the Subways’ movement in the state of West Virginia and not the last,” he stated. Cortez says one of his colleagues is the music director at the Beckley Presbyterian Church, and they are working on something big for next year when the movement comes around again. For the night, his overall favorite piece to perform on the 2,182 pipe organ was the Prelude and Fugue in e minor BWO 548 “Wedge,” that is believed to have been written between 1727 and 1732.

    Cortez makes the comment at the end of the recital saying, “I think if Bach were here today to hear the performance he would say, ‘go back and practice again.’ It was known that Bach did not accept any kind of mediocracy of any kind, or anything less than anyone absolute best. I think he would tell me ‘Good start. Now go back to work.’” To learn more information on the Bach in Subways movement, you can visit http://bachinthesubways.org to see performances near you.

 

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