Miller Theatre at Columbia’s "Bach, Revisited" Pairs His Masterpieces with Works by Saariaho, Reich and Tower

By Louise Burton on Jan 08, 2014 07:24 PM EST

Columbia University's "Bach, Revisited" series pairs a work by a living composer with the Bach work that inspired it. These concerts at the Miller Theatre will be curated by the composers--Kaija Saariaho, Joan Tower and Steve Reich--who will also participate in onstage discussions about their works.

"We've asked them to share influential Bach pieces and their own works, born from that inspiration, in three diverse and deeply personal programs," said Melissa Smey, executive director of the Miller Theatre.

The first program holds the U.S. premiere of Saariaho's Frises (2011) for violin and electronics on Thursday, February 6 at 8:00 p.m. The work will be paired with its inspiration, Bach's Partita in D Minor for solo violin. Violinist Jennifer Koh will play the solo parts in both works.

Directly inspired by Bach's partita, Saariaho's Frises draws on Baroque forms (passacaglia, ground bass, chaconne) and stretches the sonic palette of the solo violin with live electronics. Electronic music will be provided by Jean-Baptiste Barrière.

Saariaho is a prominent member of a group of Finnish composers and performers who are now, in mid-career, making a worldwide impact. Saariaho's international reputation has continued to blossom since her packed 2009 "Composer Portrait" at the Miller Theatre. The program featured Saariaho's Violin Concerto with Koh as soloist.

The New York Times said that Koh "gave a stunning, high-energy account of the almost continuous solo line."

The "Bach, Revisited" concert series provides an excellent opportunity to sample new works of classical music--with a "bridge" to the unfamiliar provided by the more familiar work by Bach.

More information about the series is available at

"Bach, Revisited" continues in the spring with the following programs:

Tower + Bach
Thursday, April 17, 8:00 p.m.
Joan Tower intersperses her chamber music with movements of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

Reich + Bach
Thursday, May 15 8:00 p.m.
Steve Reich presents his masterful setting of Hebrew Psalms, Tehillim, which draws inspiration from Bach's Easter cantata Christ lag in Todes Banden.

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TagsBach, Revisited, Columbia University, Miller Theatre, Kaija Saariaho, Frises, Steve Reich, Tehillim, Joan Tower, Jennifer Koh, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Partita in D minor, Melissa Smey

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