Barbara Hunter-Spencer and Hilary Clark recently presented a chamber concert and Q&A highlighting excerpts from Bach’s Cello Suites at the Paso Robles City Library. Together with Jeanne Shumway, the three cellists were also a part of Cal Poly’s “Bach Week.” They discussed and played parts of the famous suites and answered questions regarding the influence of Baroque dance on these instrumental compositions.

You can experience the interpretations of Jeanne, Barbara and Hilary and three of Bach’s Suites for Solo Cello on Sunday, January 27, 4 p.m., in the Barrel Room at Cass Winery and Vineyard, Paso Robles.

Bach composed six suites and they are some of the most iconic classical works for the cello. Symphony of the Vines will present three this season, and the remainder next season.

Each of Bach’s Cello Suites follows a similar structure. They begin – as was common practice in the early 1700s – with a prélude, an introductory movement, which served a dual practical purpose of settling both the unstable gut strings of the cello and the all-too-frequently noisy audience. The prélude is usually the longest movement; its character can be whimsical and improvisatory.

Interestingly, there are no tempo markings for any of the movements given by the composer. Therefore, it is up to the performer to choose the suitable pulse for their interpretation. This can lead to significant differences.

Cello Suites are an integral part of the cello repertoire. Most well-known cellists regard performing and recording the whole set as a milestone in their career.

Symphony of the Vines is a professional orchestra based in north San Luis Obispo County. This non-profit symphony specializes in small orchestra and chamber ensembles playing in various venues including Central Coast wineries.


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