Rebecca Merblum: Bach in the Subways

Music in transit…..

It all began with an email. Dale Henderson was the sender, the subject : Bach in the Subways. He had also reached out to Rick Mooney. I immediately had a sense of nostalgia because we were old colleagues from school. I had heard of the initiative and I knew Dale was spearheading the movement, but I didn’t know to the extent it had grown. One small discussion later and the cellists had decided that we wanted to participate. I immediately wrote to Dale letting him know that we were on board (pun intended).

Then came preparation. I reached out to the city of Glendale and began the process of receiving permits to play at the historic Metrolink station. As with anything, I am glad of all of this started in October. It took quite some time for all of the necessary paperwork to be processed.

While this was going on behind the scenes, we were getting ourselves prepared with each group class to present a program that weaved through the Suzuki literature and repertoire for the full ensemble as well. We highlighted Bach of course and in the spirit of his florid and improvisatory nature, added a few selections from other composers as well.

As March 21 approached, I was full of mixed emotions. I was thrilled by the possibility of what this experience could be. I had reached out to the media – both social media and publications – and the event was given a really healthy dose of publicity. The Bach in the Subways team also provided wonderful support.

But would anyone come? I had at that point also designed and created T-shirts for the kids and the music was in fantastic shape… I was just very hopeful that the station would be buzzing with music and energy and meaning.

I think the concept of being part of a community, engaging and sharing with the public, with friends, with family, with colleagues, is something that we all hold dear. Bach’s music is of the ‘now’, it has a universal quality that for all that hear it whether or not it can be articulated. For me, it’s the element of humanity. This thread is why for no particular reason people of all varieties walk together to this sound. This is Bach and the symbol of his music.

And as luck would have it, we hit a home run. The setting was ideal, everyone sounded beautiful and the energy of the collective that was in that station that day changed every person involved. It lingered for quite some time in my mind and I really wanted to make sure that the kids had been moved and energized and excited.

And, they were! The feedback was tremendous. From news stories that ran, to photographs, to just comments that I received. I was blown away by the response.

I can’t wait for next year. I believe so deeply in this project. And feel honored to of been one of many.

Congratulations to all!

Photos by Mike Mullen courtesy of Glendale News Press

Photos by Mike Mullen courtesy of Glendale News Press