An Interview With Composer Brian Holmes

Bay Area composer, horn player, and recently retired SJ State physics professor Brian Holmes talked with SFBC Board member and singer Kelsey Menehan about his new piece, The Contest of Holly and Ivy, commissioned by San Francisco Bach Choir for our December 2018 program. The Contest of Holly and Ivy is drawn from an old English carol, which, I believe, predates the … Read More

Interview with Robert Coote About Bach Choir Translations

Ever wonder what goes into producing a Bach Choir concert? It is a combination of the hard work, talents, and unique abilities of the Bach Choir community, and often those efforts have value beyond the performance itself. For example, we receive many requests from performing groups all over the world for permission to use our translations, which we make available … Read More

What Is a Fugue?

A fugue is the most complex polyphonic musical form, involving imitation among the parts (called “voices” whether they are vocal or instrumental). The word fugue comes from fuga, meaning to chase since each voice “chases” the previous one. The composition of a fugue starts with the choice of a musical theme of a particular kind called the subject. In the initial section … Read More

On Period Tuning

The San Francisco Bach Choir and its Period Orchestra strive to employ tuning practices based on what we know of the historical practices of the composer’s time. For the Bach Cantatas, we do not use the modern tuning practice of setting the A above middle C to vibrate at 440 wave cycles per second (Hertz). Instead, we tune that A … Read More

What Is a Cornett?

The Renaissance cornett is a hybrid instrument with a small trumpet-like mouthpiece and the finger holes of a woodwind instrument. It reached the height of popularity around 1500 to 1650, and was in demand for all types of music—indoor and outdoor, in serious and dance music, in church and chamber music, and in town bands and royal households.