History & Mission:
The mission of the Berkshire Bach Society (BBS) is to share the vast repertoire of music by J.S. Bach, his contemporaries, the composers who influenced his work, and those he influenced, to the broadest possible audience.
How Berkshire Bach is Unique
The Berkshire Bach Society is unique in two ways: it is the oldest continuing member-based non-profit music organization in Berkshire County, and it focuses on the music of a single composer, J.S. Bach. To fulfil its mission of sharing his music - as well as that of his contemporaries, those who influenced him, and those whom he influenced - with the widest possible audience, Berkshire Bach creates programs that bring audiences a variety of concerts ranging from solo instrumental recitals to large choral works with full orchestra.
A Brief Background of our Society
Since the Berkshire Bach Society was founded in 1990 by Simon Wainrib, our concerts have annually spanned a season that stretches from the end of one Tanglewood season to the beginning of the next. The instrumental group, the Berkshire Bach Ensemble, was founded by Kenneth Cooper, who has remained throughout as its music director. In reaching out to the community, we developed an auditioned community chorus, the Berkshire Bach Singers. In the early years under the guidance of Penna Rose, and for eight seasons under the baton of James Bagwell, the chorus has also been under the artistic direction of Ian Watson, and most recently, Frank Nemhauser.
In 1993, Berkshire Bach began what has become an ongoing Berkshire County holiday tradition: the “Bach at New Year’s” performances of the Brandenburg Concerti led by maestro Kenneth Cooper. A large, sell-out audience fills the halls year after year for this joyous event, and a faithful core of extraordinary musicians have made this their yearly ritual in the Berkshires. There are two performances, one on New Year’s Eve at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, and the other on New Year’s Day at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York.
To maintain the highest standards of quality, top-ranked musicians have been recruited to perform Bach’s cantatas, organ works, concerti and chamber music, as well as spectacular performances of the St. John Passion (BWV 245), the B minor Mass (BWV 232), the Magnificat (BWV 243), the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), and the sold-out performance of George Frideric Handel’s Israel in Egypt with double chorus. The BBS also sponsors smaller chamber performances of music by J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and other Baroque composers as well as organ concerts featuring Bach repertoire.