The Miami Bach Society (= MBS) was founded in 1984 by a group of parishioners at the Coral Gables' Presbyterian Church. This group planned three concerts to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of J.S. Bach, but because of the tremendous success of the performances, they formed a more permanent entity, the Miami Bach Society. Since then, the Society has given an average of four concerts a year. The venues broadened to include many others in Miami-Dade County. It also has performed at international cultural events in Europe.
The Miami Bach Society performs music of the greatest Baroque masters including works of Lully, François Couperin, Charpentier, Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli, George Frideric Handel, Georg Philipp Telemann and the sons of J.S. Bach: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Christian Bach and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. It also includes compositions of the Mediaeval and Renaissance eras. Utilizing the talent of local artists from the faculty of the University of Miami, Florida International University, the New World Symphony, and what was the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra.
In its season concerts, the Bach Society also presents eminent musicians with national and international reputations. Counter-tenor Steven Rickards, and noted Baroque soprano Julianne Baird regularly sing with the Miami Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus. Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma, Mexican recorder player Horacio Franco, English violinist, Andrew Manze, and lutinist Hopkinson Smith as a well as groups such as The Ensemble for Early Music, Lionhart and The Baltimore Consort have been featured in past seasons.
For 25 years the Society has enjoyed the strong leadership of Donald Oglesby, Professor of Choral Music at The University of Miami, as its Artistic Director. Robert Heath, accomplished harpsichordist and music director at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Coconut Grove, who for 10 years served as Executive Director, has acted as Artistic Coordinator another 15. A committed and enthusiastic Board of Directors has spearheaded fund-raising efforts and provided the personnel to stage the concerts. In addition, a National Advisory Board of musicians, educators and festival directors has been created to offer advice and support.
In 1995, Kathryn Gaubatz assumed the position of Executive Director, and has managed the Society since then. Under her guidance, the organization launched its International Tropical Baroque Music Festival to critical acclaim. The Festival features international stars of baroque music, attracts enthusiastic audiences and provides master-classes for university students and in-school programs for youth.
In recent years, the Society also has developed an International Cultural Exchange program. This has featured a 2000 summer visit to the Center for Baroque Music in Versailles, France, and subsequent concerts both in Paris and in Aix-en-Provence. The latter has been under the auspices of Les Festes d’Orphée, a Baroque Music organization in that city. It also brought noted organist Jean Guillou from the Church of St. Eustache in Paris to perform in Miami as well as a group of musicians from Le Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles and Auser Music from Pisa, Italy, another sister-city of Coral Gables.
In all, the Miami Bach Society strives to enhance its local cultural environment for national and international visitors who conduct business and vacation in South Florida. In this way, The Miami Bach Society endeavors to bring the cultural excellence of its community to the region, the state, the country and the world.