The Canberra Bach Ensemble (CBE) is dedicated to the authentic performance of JS Bach’s vast musical output in the Australian capital. CBE is a uniquely Canberran venture, drawing extensively on instrumentalists and singers from the local musical community. It provides performance opportunities for both established and up and coming musicians, and allows the audience to have a regular engagement with this significant music repertoire.
Originally established in 1999 (giving 8 performances between 1999 and 2000), CBE was re-established in 2016 with a renewed commitment to providing historically informed performances of Bach’s music, in particular, the cantatas. CBE now performs only at Baroque pitch (A415) and is transitioning to Baroque instruments. This has improved the tone and balance of the ensemble (orchestra, vocal soloists and choir).
In Canberra, there is a core group of local musicians who perform on period instruments, however, local baroque wind players are scarce. For many programs, CBE needs to bring in interstate baroque brass and woodwind players in order to cover all parts. Although this is costly, the benefit to CBE and the Canberra community is immeasurable. Not only does this mean we can provide high quality performances, it allows Canberra baroque musicians to collaborate more frequently with interstate musicians. We also hope it will encourage young players in this region to try a baroque instrument.
Since its re-establishment, CBE has had three concert seasons, with the last one in early 2017. However, the cost of re-establishing the Canberra Bach Ensemble is a challenge. For each season, we perform two concerts over a weekend. The budget is approximately $20 000, and much of this needs to be outlaid prior to the performances.
Costs include the purchase of sheet music, venue hire, performance fees for all musicians as well as travel allowances for any interstate players required.
For example, in our next program we need 3 baroque oboists (2 from outside of Canberra), 2 baroque trumpeters, a natural horn player and a baroque bassoonist. Therefore, we are seeking donations to assist with costs.
This will allow us to keep ticket prices as low as possible, and therefore maximise our audience outreach. With this initial funding boost, we aim to be able to confidently schedule 2-3 concert seasons each year.
For more information about the CBE or its Director, Andrew Koll, please visit www.canberrabachensemble.com