The Bach Society Houston present exemplary, historically-informed professional performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors who were influenced by Bach and constitute his legacy.
The Bach Society Houston was founded in 1982. It has a unique position among Houston’s musical organizations, maintaining its own professional performing ensemble (the Bach Choir), but also presenting performances by guest ensembles and soloists. The Bach Society is also the only professional arts organization in Houston to offer most of its performances without admission charge, making them accessible to the entire community. This is made possible through a tradition of generosity by individual donors, whose contributions cover approximately 85% of its expenses, as well as grants by the Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Endowment, and several other organizations.
The Bach Society was founded at Christ the King Lutheran Church under the initial leadership of Carroll and Dorry Shaddock, inspired by the example of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan, which presented cantatas on a weekly basis at Sunday evening vespers services. Dr. Robert Lynn, professor of musicology at the University of Houston (now emeritus), was engaged as Music Director, and together they worked to establish an ensemble which reflected the latest research and scholarship of historically-informed performance practice. A series of Bach Vespers was the Society’s first offering; the response of the public was overwhelming, and attendance remained at capacity over the years as the number of presentations steadily increased.
An important impetus came in 1995 with the installation of a new organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church. The “Bach Organ” was built by Fritz Noack in the style of 18th century Saxon organ builder Zacharias Hildebrandt, and was hailed as one of the most important instruments of its kind on the North American continent. Ideally suited for the performance of Bach’s organ music, the instrument became the centerpiece of a series of organ recitals featuring dozens of distinguished organists from around the world.
In the ensuing years, the Bach Society Houston evolved into a fully independent 501(c)(3) organization while maintaining a close affiliation with its founding congregation. In 2003, on the retirement of Robert Lynn, Albert LeDoux was engaged as Artistic Director. Building on the Society’s strong tradition, he has overseen the further growth of the Society in many areas, including the addition of a Chamber Music series and Abendmusik Concerts to the Society’s offerings. The most significant recent development has been the shift to the use of period instruments—reconstructions of instruments from the baroque period. The Bach Choir is joined by Mercury Baroque, Houston’s period-instrument orchestra, for its Bach Vespers and Abendmusik Concerts.
The Bach Society has been described as a “jewel of the Houston arts and music scene.” It has built an international reputation as a cultural organization and has served as a musical ambassador of Houston and the United States through cooperation with the German, Swedish, and Danish consulates, the Czech Cultural Center, and the Houston-Leipzig Sister City Association. Excerpts from the Bach Society’s concerts are broadcast regularly on Houston’s classical radio station KUHA 91.7 FM.
Past Events at MATCH
- March 2016: Music for Passiontide