‘With Strings Attached’ Tuba Bach 2017 season begins Sept. 9

Ed Mallett, Tuba Bach president and artistic director, holds the strings of the Tuba Bach marionette. This year’s festival is themed “With Strings Attached” and the first concert of the six-week series is set for Sept. 9. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — While the twelfth season of the Tuba Bach Festival is “With Strings Attached,” audiences can be sure there’s no catch to the free chamber music concert series.

The title comes from a CD collaboration between Tuba Bach and the Harlem Quartet of the same name. Each of the six concerts will feature string musicians or music originally written for string instruments. Five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten, Cuban musician brothers Ilmar Gavilan and Aldo-Lopez Gavilan, and guitarists Fareed Haque and Goran Ivanovic are among the guest artists for the series.

Concerts will again be at 7 p.m. Saturday evenings with a matinee performance at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in the auditorium of Big Rapids High School, 21175 15 Mile Road. In addition to the usual free concerts, additional “Lunch Bachs Concerts” have been set for noon on Saturdays in the basement of Artworks, 106 N. Michigan Ave., Big Rapids.

“New this year, every Saturday at noon we’ll be doing a little short one-hour thing,” said Ed Mallett, Tuba Bach president and artistic director. “There will be more talking and it will be more educational than a traditional concert. We’re hoping to get kids to come to these, ask questions and interact with the performers. It’s a more relaxed setting.”

The Lunch Bachs concerts are a way for young children to be more involved in the concert experience. The setting is less formal, so attendees can bring a snack or their lunch to the events and feel free to ask questions about the instruments and how they work. Jeanna Lamar, a music teacher for Big Rapids Public Schools, will host the noontime concerts.

“We’ve had parents of young children who wanted to come hear the music, but a two-hour formal concert might be too long for kids,” Mallett said. “We decided to do something more relaxed, so if kids want to talk, they can, and get a chance to ask questions.”

While the Lunch Bachs concept was designed with young children in mind, anyone and everyone is welcome to attend the noon sessions, Mallett said.

The 2017 Tuba Bach season “With Strings Attached” begins Sept. 9. (Courtesy photo)

The six concerts of the 2017 season include:

• Week 1: Going for Baroque, Sept. 9 and 10

Musicians from the Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Youth Symphony will be the featured guest performers.

“We’ll have 16 musicians on stage at the same time,” Mallett said. “We’ll play Bach, Vivaldi — all Baroque music of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.”

• Week 2: Bass Extremes, Sept. 16 and 17

Grammy winner Victor Wooten, Berklee College of Music bass chair Steve Bailey and drummer Derico Watson are the guest performers.

“Victor Wooten is coming — I’m so psyched about that!” Mallett said. “The music will be jazz and funk, with some Bach thrown in because we can.”

• Week 3: The Tuba Bach Quartet, Sept. 23 and 24

The group plays every year in the festival. While there are no string instruments in the quartet, the group will be playing transcriptions of pieces originally written for string quartets.

• Week 4: Going Bolling, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1

The Alvin Waddles Trio returns to the festival to play jazz-classical hybrid music by French composer Claude Bolling. Mallett and the trio will be releasing a CD, also titled “Going Bolling,” at the concert. Most of the concert will music on the album, he noted.

• Week 5: Havana Good Time, Oct. 7 and 8

Cuban musicians and brothers Ilmar Gavilan and Aldo-Lopez Gavilan team up with Mallett for this blend of jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music traditions.

• Week 6: Six String Wizardry, Oct. 14 and 15

The festival closes with guitarists Fareed Haque and Goran Ivanovic. Between the two, they bring influences from several cultures together to blend with classical music, Mallett sai

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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