Trio connects Bach to Afro-Cuban sound

The Riemenschneider Bach Institute continued its 50th Anniversary celebration with a concert by the Africa→West Trio called “Bach & the Global Sarabande.”

The RBI is a research library housed in the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and it contains numerous rare scores and books associated with Bach but also with many other composers, said Dr. Christina Fuhrmann, professor of musicology and editor of BACH, Journal of the RBI.

“It’s really very rare for so many unusual and unique works to be on a college campus,” said Fuhrmann, “and it’s a wonderful opportunity for students to do research, to touch and see the tangible artifacts of the past and really to understand where our musical culture comes from.”

The Africa→West Percussion Trio is comprised of Professor Josh Ryan, chair for winds, brass and percussion department and professor of percussion, Jamie Ryan, and Ryan Korb.

The group formed about 20 years ago, Josh and Jamie are brothers, and they met Ryan Korb in college.

“We were all percussionists with training in classical percussion, jazz music and popular music, and we all had an interest in folkloric music, music of West African origin and non-Western music,” said Ryan. “Members of the trio have studied in West Africa, Cuba and India.”

“We were interested in the similarities, rather than the differences, between Western and non-Western types of music because there are a lot of similarities,” said Ryan.

All of the works that the trio performed were written by members of the trio.  Most notably is the work “Zarabanda/Sarabande,” which features the sarabande from J.S. Bach’s “G Major Suite for cello” and used an item from the RBI vault.

The RBI is home to a first edition copy of the Grützmacher.  Friedrich Grützmacher was a 19 century German cellist who published a romanticized and ornamented version of the “Bach cello suites,” said Ryan.

The work is based on Ned Sublette’s, musician and historian, hypothesis that the Sarabande is of West African origin.

“I discovered that the Sarabande may have actually come from a style of Congolese music called the Zarabanda,” said Ryan. “One of the things that the Congolese music and the Sarabande have in common is the emphasis on beat two in a group of three.”

The concert also featured another piece that combined Bach with Afro-Cuban music.

About 17 years ago, we wrote a piece called Ochún, which uses a fugue, a musical style advanced by J.S. Bach, that also obeys some of the rhythmic rules of West African and Afro-Cuban music, said Ryan.

This concert made some of the most exciting connections because it linked Bach to music from around the world, said Fuhrmann.

“Different societies in the world have incredible value,” said Ryan, “Regardless of their economy’s size, does not necessarily predict or preclude another’s virtuosity.”

 

The RBI is a research library housed in the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and it contains numerous rare scores and books associated with Bach but also with many other composers, said Dr. Christina Fuhrmann, professor of musicology and editor of BACH, Journal of the RBI.

“It’s really very rare for so many unusual and unique works to be on a college campus,” said Fuhrmann, “and it’s a wonderful opportunity for students to do research, to touch and see the tangible artifacts of the past and really to understand where our musical culture comes from.”

The Africa→West Percussion Trio is comprised of Professor Josh Ryan, chair for winds, brass and percussion department and professor of percussion, Jamie Ryan, and Ryan Korb.

The group formed about 20 years ago, Josh and Jamie are brothers, and they met Ryan Korb in college.

“We were all percussionists with training in classical percussion, jazz music and popular music, and we all had an interest in folkloric music, music of West African origin and non-Western music,” said Ryan. “Members of the trio have studied in West Africa, Cuba and India.”

“We were interested in the similarities, rather than the differences, between Western and non-Western types of music because there are a lot of similarities,” said Ryan.

All of the works that the trio performed were written by members of the trio.  Most notably is the work “Zarabanda/Sarabande,” which features the sarabande from J.S. Bach’s “G Major Suite for cello” and used an item from the RBI vault.

The RBI is home to a first edition copy of the Grützmacher.  Friedrich Grützmacher was a 19 century German cellist who published a romanticized and ornamented version of the “Bach cello suites,” said Ryan.

The work is based on Ned Sublette’s, musician and historian, hypothesis that the Sarabande is of West African origin.

“I discovered that the Sarabande may have actually come from a style of Congolese music called the Zarabanda,” said Ryan. “One of the things that the Congolese music and the Sarabande have in common is the emphasis on beat two in a group of three.”

The concert also featured another piece that combined Bach with Afro-Cuban music.

About 17 years ago, we wrote a piece called Ochún, which uses a fugue, a musical style advanced by J.S. Bach, that also obeys some of the rhythmic rules of West African and Afro-Cuban music, said Ryan.

This concert made some of the most exciting connections because it linked Bach to music from around the world, said Fuhrmann.

“Different societies in the world have incredible value,” said Ryan, “Regardless of their economy’s size, does not necessarily predict or preclude another’s virtuosity.”