Winona may soon welcome a new festival to town. Central Lutheran Church and the Minnesota Bach Society announced plans to host an annual Bach Festival starting in March of 2015. A Minnesota Bach Society performance of the legendary German composer Johann Sebastien Bach's "St. Mathew Passion" will be the centerpiece of the festival, with workshops and smaller performances leading up to the main event. "The 'St. Mathew Passion' is a gargantuan work: double choir, double orchestra," said Central Lutheran Church Director of Music Erik Floan. It features vocal soloists, and, in part, a children's choir, that is expected to be made up of local youth, he added.
The Minnesota Bach Society, which performs mostly in St. Paul and travels occasionally to out-state towns, was interested in arranging an annual show at a single greater Minnesota location, As fate would have it, the society chose Winona's Central Lutheran Church, Floan explained. The church's classical Music and Arts Series and its renowned organ did not hurt either, Floan conceded.
"A lot of jazz players study the music of Bach because of the chord progressions," Floan said. With the strong jazz programs at Winona State University and Saint Mary's University, the idea came up to host a Bach-themed jazz workshop. Other ideas Floan and planners from the Bach society are considering include "sing-in" events (imagine the choral equivalent of pick-up basketball), lectures from Bach scholars, and other performances.
Hosting a festival on the famous composer, who was steeped in Lutheran worship tradition, will build on the positive energy Central Lutheran has brought to its community and provide "an interesting space where faith and thought can really thrive," Floan hopes.