Celebrate Johann Sebastian's 333rd at a Subway Stop Near You

Paul Kotapish on March 20, 2018
Dale Henderson taking Bach to the subway

If you commute by subway, listen for strains of J.S. Bach coming from live musicians — soloists and ensembles, amateurs and professionals — along your route on March 21 (and for a few days after), the composer’s birthdate. The annual Bach in the Subways celebration of the Baroque master takes place in 150 cities in 40 countries around the world. The pop-up events are absolutely free, with no tipping allowed. Musicians and listeners participate for the sheer love of the music.

The event is the brainchild of cellist Dale Henderson, who in 2010 began performing the Cello Suites several times a week in the New York City subway system to bring his beloved Bach to people who might never otherwise hear the music firsthand. Over the years his solo effort grew into the concerted global effort that marks the project today. Henderson himself will perform Bach on three continents this year: in Singapore; Tiblisi, Georgia; and Seattle, Washington.

Four simple principles comprise the Bach in the Subways credo:

  • The music of J.S. Bach is performed anywhere, anytime.

  • The performance is open and accessible to all — a musical gift for anyone who wants to hear it.

  • No admission fee is required, no money is accepted by the performers, and no other commercial transactions occur immediately before, during, or after the performance.

  • No musician is ever charged to perform for Bach in the Subways.

In the Bay Area, look for these Bach in the Subways events:

Soloists and ensembles from the Junior Bach Festival will perform at the Downtown Berkeley BART Station from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on March 21.

Cellista will perform excerpts from the Bach Cello Suites in Jack Kerouac Alley from 6 to 6:45 p.m. on March 22.

Bach Bois flute/piano duo will perform selections from Bach’s flute sonatas, solo flute partita, and solo keyboard works at the Powell Street BART Station from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on March 23.

To see the worldwide range of performance locations, vist the Bach in the Subways website.