March 10, 2011

Cellist Laurence Lesser to Perform Complete Bach Suites, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall

Bach Scholar Christoph Wolff Presents Pre-Concert Lecture on Johann Sebastian Bach—The Learned Musician

Laurence Lesser, Walter W. Naumburg Chair in Music and Artistic Director of First Monday at Jordan Hall, will perform the Bach Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello in a single concert, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall.

This survey concert follows upon Lesser’s traversal of the complete Beethoven works for cello and piano, which he performed in two NEC performances celebrating his 70th birthday in 2008 and subsequently recorded for Bridge.  Lesser's performance of the Suites at an earlier concert in Toronto in October 2000 inspired a young rock and pop critic, Eric Siblin, to take a completely unexpected musical journey. So enthralled was the author by these works, that he devoted several years researching them and produced a critically acclaimed book, The Cello Suites. Part biography, part music history, and part literary mystery, The Cello Suites weaves together three dramatic narratives: The first features Johann Sebastian Bach and the missing manuscript of his suites from the eighteenth century; the second follows Pablo Casals and the historic discovery of the music in Spain in the late nineteenth century; and the third is Eric Siblin's own infatuation with the suites in the twenty-first century. Siblin starts the book by acknowledging Lesser as the reason for its existence.

Of the Suites, Lesser writes: "A special feature of my concert comes from the fact that although Bach's original manuscript for the suites is lost, he did transcribe the Fifth Suite (c minor) for lute and his manuscript of that suite survives.  This has fascinated me for a great many years and, bit by bit, I made a transcription of the lute version for cello.  It is much more ornamented than the cello version and I use it therefore as the source for the repeats of each of the dance movements, thus providing the usual practice of ornamenting repeats in the Baroque period, but also illustrating accurately how Bach went about that.  The lute version isn't easy on the cello, but it is worth it."

The concert will be preceded at 5 p.m. in Williams Hall by a pre-concert talk given by Christoph Wolff, Adams University Professor at Harvard University and a renowned Bach scholar. Dr. Wolff received an hon. DMA from NEC in 1999. Wolff is the author of Johann Sebastian Bach—The Learned Musician.

For more information about Laurence Lesser, click here.

For more information about the concert, check the NEC website or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. Pierce Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115