Bach in Baltimore will be performing “Music of the Gods” on September 15, 2019, at 4 pm at the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD as part of “Beyond Bach Concert Series: Music of the Gods and Music of Humanity.”
Maestro T. Herbert Dimmock conducts the Bach in Baltimore
Orchestra in a program that includes:
Handel’s “Water Music” (Suite No. 2)
Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture,” Op 84
Mozart’s Symphony 41 in C major, “Jupiter Symphony”
This first installment of “Beyond Bach Concert Series” will feature the music of Mozart and Beethoven. Because as great as Bach is, we all know that there is more.
According to Bach in Baltimore, Beethoven’s ideal world was located in the future, a utopia to which humankind could aspire. His uplifting music reminds us that the struggle for peace and brotherhood is worth the toil, and his remarkable ability to fuse comedy and tragedy has the power to deescalate tension and make troubles seem trivial. His unrivaled ability to explore the full range of human experience—birth, struggle, death, and resurrection—makes his music both life-affirming and life-changing.
Mozart’s music is simply exquisite. It’s hard not to listen to his music without feeling overcome and overjoyed with the ‘rightness’ of it all. Mozart’s phrases balance each other with flawless precision. Mozart’s view of the world was so magnificently constructed that an entire era was named “Classical” after the music that he composed during his lifetime. Music critics likened it the classic, eye-pleasing architecture of the ancient Greeks. Mozart’s music is buoyant–it truly can enhance one’s optimism in the human spirit!
Both concerts will also feature T. Herbert Dimmock, Conductor. The first program includes:
Mozart’s Symphony No. 40
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, Op. 36
I had the good fortune to interview their conductor, T. Herbert Dimmock, about music and the upcoming production.
Herbert Dimmock is considered one of the foremost Baroque experts in the country, and his conducting credits include nearly all the oratorios and anthems of Handel, all the major Bach works plus and 160 Bach Cantatas. He has conducted the music of Bach in the U.S. Germany, Canada, and England, working with many of the world’s most accomplished singers and instrumentalists. Maestro Dimmock is also an accomplished organist, having played recitals at many of the world’s most prestigious sites. In addition to his work as founder and music director of the Bach Concert Series, Dimmock has served as music director of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, PA for five years, retiring in the fall of 2018, as well as the choir director at Chizuk Amuno Synagogue in Pikesville, MD. Other past church posts include The Cathedral of the Incarnation (Episcopal) and First English Lutheran Church – both in Baltimore – and The Handel Choir of Baltimore where he was music director for 25 years and is now honored with the title of Music Director Emeritus.
Maestro Dimmock has a B. A. from Davidson College, a M. M. from Peabody Conservatory and extensive continuing educational credits at universities in the USA and Germany. He has served as part-time faculty at Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame. Honors include commendations from the State of Maryland, a “Baltimore’s Best” award and serving on task forces in the arts for the Governor of Maryland and the Pew Trust in Philadelphia.
- Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
I am the son of a rocket scientist whose work had him moving up and down the Mid-Atlantic States during my childhood. I am one of four children – all four of us became professional musicians. My sister is music director at a very large church in North Carolina. My brother in California is a member of the San Francisco Orchestra and the first non-Englishman to be the organist at Westminster Abbey.
I began piano lessons at age 5. My entire life, I sang in choirs at church and at school. I switched over to organ lessons in 9th grade. I attended Davidson College in NC where I studied pre-med and music. I graduated with a music degree (BS, 1974) then went to Peabody Conservatory where I earned a MM in organ and conducting (in 1976).
Immediately after graduate school, I became the music director of the Handel Choir of Baltimore. I held that position for 25 years (and am now their music director emeritus)
Through the years I have been the music director at several churches. St. Anthony of Padua (at the time, the largest church in Baltimore) The Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation and First English Lutheran (both in Baltimore) Most recently, I have been the music director at St Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg PA. I retired from that job about 9 months ago.
In 1988, I founded Bach in Baltimore. I focused in particular on the Bach’s musical language. In Bach’s lifetime, he was known as “the fifth evangelist.” It is by understanding Bach’s musical language that that moniker makes sense. I begin cantata concerts with an introduction to the musical language for the audience. In about 10 minutes, I cite 10 or 11 examples of what Bach was doing through melody, rhythm and harmony. Each of those examples is then performed by the musicians onstage as the introduction progresses.
We’ve found that audiences love that aspect of our concerts. Often, we are told that their enjoyment of the music was heightened due to the knowledge gained in that introduction.
I am married to a physician, Dr. Rebecca Bascom. We have two children (the older of which is now in medical school. The younger one is in Washington DC working as an economist). I live in Hershey, PA.
- How old were you when you decided to make music your life’s work? Was there anyone thing or many?
All my life, music was enormously important to me. Beginning in high school, I contemplated becoming a professional musician. However, it was not until my sophomore year of college that I made a firm decision to make music my life’s work.
- Did you have any choice in the program on Sept. 15? If so, briefly tell us why you picked those three pieces.
As music director, I pick all the music for all the concerts that Bach in Baltimore performs. That will also include pieces selected for our new concert series, Beyond Bach.
In addition to 160 of the 200 cantatas, the masses and the passions, Bach in Baltimore has performed nearly every instrumental work of Bach wrote. Our audience made clear to us that they would like to hear more instrumental music performed by our superb orchestra in a manner similar to our Bach performances (in intimate spaces for audiences of no more than 600)
For me, the logical place to look to expand the musical literature that we perform was in the Classical Period (going as far as the Beethoven). That music calls for orchestras that will fit our performance spaces perfectly.
The three pieces I selected for the first concert are three of the most beloved works in the literature: Mozart’s final symphony, the “Jupiter” and Beethoven’s magnificent “Egmont Overture.” Because there was room on the program for one additional work of modest length, I choose the exuberant “Trumpet Suite” of Handel’s “Water Music” (the second of the three suites that comprise the Water Music).
- Do you prefer conducting or performing on the organ and why?
If I could only choose one, it would be conducting. I love the collaborative aspect of making music with others. I have developed very effective techniques to inspire others as the make music. For those reasons, if I had to choose, I would rather give up playing the organ rather than stop conducting.
- Why do you think Handel, Beethoven and Mozart are still relevant in modern society?
Great question. On one very real level, the answer is simple: their music still speaks to people today. The obvious next question is, why? I believe that It’s because their music addresses universal truths that are timeless. Their music rises above the time in which it was composed. It rises above the culture that produced it. What it does do is communicate to us on a deeply human level. That is exactly why I start my cantata concerts with an introduction to the musical language. It is the musical language that makes that happen. My job is to understand that language and create performances that bring it to life for the audience. In my introductions, I let the audience in on how Bach did it – thus enhancing their ability to enjoy the experience of hearing a work (often for the first time)
For tickets and information about the concerts go online.
Thanks to Kristen LePine, Bach in Baltimore, for her help with this article.