On the anniversary of J.S. Bach’s death, I was blessed to witness his Cantata 21 performed with a full ensemble. Trinity Lutheran on Central Park West. Balmy. Angelic voices, harpsichord, strings… the whole deal. And what a lyrical journey, from despair to exaltation. The pastor was newly installed and gave his first sermon… sublime (he had me at Rilke). Many composers in Bach’s time were at the mercy of patrons. Writing music to entertain a court. Bach was a cantor. He wrote music to exalt his God (and sometimes, to doubt and search for that God despairingly, as with tonight’s cantata). He composed to give people a vehicle to transcend worldly affairs and undertake their own spiritual trips. And on top of all that, he’s the father of pop music. Without Bach, no Beatles! Man. Heavy stuff. I came home and wrote a new song while it thundered and lightening’d outside. Its lyrics contain the words ‘molecules’ and ‘quarks.’

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