University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Music will perform Bach's "B-minor Mass" in Studzinski Recital Hall this Sunday.
"[Bach's 'B-minor Mass'] remains today as the most compelling, most musically reasoned, most aesthetically rewarding of all settings—a standard of excellence perhaps for all time," said Professor of Music at USM Robert Russell.
The program was organized by Concert, Budget & Equipment Manager Delmar Small, and is in part sponsored by Dorothy Henderson Shields Fund, who corresponded with Russell in order to bring this group to Bowdoin.
Russell is the director of Bach's B-minor compilation of musicians and singers from USM, the Choral Art Society (CAS) and Maine's professional music community.
Russell began his work in Portland in 1979, and through the years with CAS and USM, has conducted several dozen concerts with the chorus and orchestra.
The upcoming performance is "a virtual encyclopedia of Baroque forms and compositional techniques and I look forward to performing it for the Bowdoin Community," wrote Russell in an e-mail to the Orient.
"We offer in this performance a chamber-sized chorus and orchestra and vocal soloists who are willing and able to embrace the dual roles of soloist and ensemble singer," said Russell.
The performance will incorporate both the chorus and orchestra while highlighting soloists. This organization was adopted from the performance of the "Mass in B-minor" at the church-turned-concert hall St. John's at Smith Square in London.
"I had the good fortune to be in London during the Holy Week and heard this performance of three great works of Johann Sebastian Bach," wrote Russell. "The quality of that performance and the clarity of musical articulation remain embedded in my musical consciousness today. It was an extraordinary afternoon."
That performance featured 12 singers and a small orchestra while each of the singers stepped forward during the concert to sing as a soloist.
Russell said that Bach's "B-minor Mass" performance this Sunday will be his way of honoring that memory.
Many students are excited for this performance as well by the range of compositional variety at the College.
First year Natalie Clark, who started playing piano in first grade, feels that the music performances were not well-advertised when she applied to Bowdoin but are a welcome surprise.
"I didn't realize there were so many performances at Bowdoin," said Clark. "It's good for me to be able to see how to perform these types of pieces so that I can incorporate it into my own playing."
However, students will be experiencing more than just pleasing music as Russell chose his pieces for another purpose as well.
"Rhetoric is the art or science of using words effectively in speaking or writing, so as to influence or persuade," said Russell.
Russell recognized that this type of language has been lost to almost all except those in graduate schools and law schools. He hopes to inspire this kind of brilliant use of language by performing Bach's pieces.
Bach was a student of rhetoric and he incorporated this sensibility into his masterworks.
The performance will have educational benefits for students.
Colleen Maher '12, who plays percussion in the Bowdoin Orchestra Group, is excited for the upcoming event.
"It's nice to hear that Bowdoin is going out of its way to find performances that pertain more to the students and their musical interests as well as academic ones," said Maher.
Bach's "B-minor Mass" performance will take place on Sunday at the Studzinksi Recital Hall at 3 p.m.
The event is open and free to public.