J.S. Bach, John Cage collide on Boulder concert program

March 24, 2015
Photo: Zachary Carrettin with 3rd law dance
Violinist Zachary Carrettin of the Boulder Bach Festival performs alongside Katie Elliott, choreographer and Co-Artistic Director for 3rd Law Dance/Theater.

The Boulder Bach Festival and 3rd Law Dance/Theater team up this weekend for a choreographed concert with music by two very different composers: J.S. Bach and John Cage.

Bach was a towering figure in the Baroque era whose work continues to captivate classical audiences and musicians more than 250 years after his death. Cage was an American composer and musical philosopher of sorts who incorporated random sounds and Zen philosophy into his pieces.  

Yet the two composers complement each other wonderfully, said Zachary Carrettin, violinist and music director of the Boulder Bach Festival.

“I think with Cage we’re always looking at the here and now,” he said. “And often with Bach we’re looking at the beyond -- or trying to get in touch with something beyond this corporeal existence.”

The Bach UnCaged concerts -- set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts -- will feature Carrettin’s electric violin arrangements of Bach’s unaccompanied Cello Suites. Here’s footage of him performing the pieces during a recent session at CPR:

This weekend’s program also includes pianist Marcia Schirmer playing excerpts from Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. Cage’s score calls for the pianist to transform a piano into a kind of percussion instrument by wedging objects like screws, paper clips and pencil erasers into the strings of a piano.

For more on Carrettin and his electric violin arrangements of Bach's music, check out his recent interview with CPR Classical.