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Berkshire Bach

Lovers of Bach can have an unusually close encounter with his music February 3rd when the Berkshire Bach Society presents Bach, Mendelssohn and Brahms, Fantasia, Fugues, Chorales and More at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, 1089 Main Street, Housatonic MA.

The program, which begins at 4PM features Peter Sykes on the organ.

It is that organ that will bring the audience closer to Bach and the music he created. The church’s Johnson Tracker Organ is the kind of instrument Bach knew. In the 20th century the advent of electricity produced a kind of organ that, however impressive, resulted in musicians losing intimacy with and control over the sound. The Johnson organ in Housatonic is one that Bach and his contemporaries would have recognized, and can serve as a vehicle for his music far better than a large modern organ.

Sykes explained that modern organs produce “a wall of sound” without much to differentiate voices or notes. “The Johnson organ in the UU Meeting House in Housatonic stands as a rebuttal to all that,” he said. “Its voice is gentle but clear; polyphony as found in Bach’s organ music stands out clearly, and it’s easy to follow the progress of a fugue since all the voices can be distinctly heard.”

He added that “the instruments’ color stops (string, flute and reed) “are pretty, lyrical and serve to support the musical lines without force or shrillness. … This is an organ that is a musical instrument – not a synthesizer or sound machine, but a conveyor of a musical message.”

The program includes Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 and Chorale prelude “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele”, BWV 654; Felix Mendelssohn’s Prelude and Fugue in G major, op. 37, no. 2 and Sonata op. 65, no. 6; Niels Gade’s Drei Orgelstücke op. 22; and Johannes Brahms’ Prelude and Fugue in G minor WoO 6 and selections from Op. 122 collection of chorale preludes.

There will be a reception open to all following the concert.

Admission is $25 for the general public, $20 for Berkshire Bach members and free for students with and ID. Tickets can be purchased with cash or check at the door or in advance at