Quest Public Arts Series: Bach’s Goldberg Variations by Magdalena Baczewska:

Quest’s Public Arts Series is a series of public events for the appreciation of art. These monthly events are open to both Quest students and the larger community, and are a nice way of integrating Quest within the Squamish community. Events and performances range from a Taiko drumming performance to an art gallery to piano concerts.

This past Friday, Quest hosted a world-renowned pianist, Magdalena Baczewska.


As quoted from the event page:

Born in Poland to a family of musicians, Magdalena Baczewska has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a pianist, harpsichordist, educator, and recording artist. Her performances have been hailed as “eloquent and technically flawless” (The Washington Post) and praised for “high musicianship and refined musical taste” (Polish Daily News). The American Record Guide applauded Baczewska’s debut album, A Tribute to Glenn Gould, as “world-class.” Her doctoral dissertation, In Search for Bach’s Cantabile: The Role and Aspects of Oratory and Singing in Keyboard Interpretation, was published in 2009 by Lambert Academic Publishing. Baczewska resides in New York City where she is a full-time faculty member and Director of the Music Performance Program at Columbia University.

She played Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The piece was composed for Count Kaiserling, who suffered from insomnia and wanted a smooth and lively piece that would cheer him up during his restless nights.

Before performed the piece, Baczewska gave a lecture situating Bach’s Goldberg Variations within the French, Italian, and German Baroque styles. During this time she played small sections from certain variations, explaining the major features and styles of each variation. This was extremely helpful in directing the listeners to certain facets of the piece.

The piece begins with an aria (a long, accompanied song for a solo voice) that is then built upon in 30 variations, and ending with the return of the initial aria. The variations are based on different musical forms, including sarabandes, fugues, and canons with every third variation. Emotions change throughout the 40-minute piece, resulting in the final aria eliciting a feeling of nostalgia and finality – much different than when it was first heard. It is incredible how the same notes could be so transformed by the narrative of the piece.

The Quest Public Arts Series provides an opportunity for students and members of the communities to appreciate art, whether it is beautiful music, paintings, or dance. It enables a type of learning that we often do not get in class – one based on raw emotions and feeling. In addition, having these public displays at Quest makes these experiences accessible to Quest students and Squamish residents who would otherwise have to travel to Vancouver or Whistler. I find that this series is an excellent way to bring together two very different populations in Squamish and help build relationships among students and residents.

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