Junior Bach Festival 2020

Welcome to the beginning of the Junior Bach Festival’s 2019–2020 season! We thank you if you have prepared students to audition for the Junior Bach Festival in the past, and we hope you will encourage your advanced students, up to 18 years of age, to apply this year. Online applications will be open very shortly, with a deadline of December 1.  Junior Bach live auditions will take place during the weekend of February 1 and February 2, 2020 in Morrison Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

Junior Bach Festival concerts are scheduled for the weekends of March 20 and 29, 2020. We urge teachers to invite friends and colleagues!  The application fee for audition is $55.00.  Any teacher whose student performs in a Festival concert is cordially invited to attend that concert free of charge.

Our program helps motivate students to carefully study and prepare a work by Johann Sebastian Bach. This process alone can be a valuable experience that can spark a lifelong appreciation for this wonderful composer’s music. The auditions are also meant to be learning opportunities. Soloists and ensembles audition before 3 expert judges who give students and teachers their written feedback. Excellent young musicians perform with and for their peers in public Festival concerts, exposing the audience to the profound variety of J.S. Bach’s compositions.

Performance standards are high, and pieces should be concert-ready at the time of the auditions. Judges and audiences value accurate rhythm, stable intonation, and thoughtful phrasing based around the music’s underlying harmony. Students are advised not to attempt works above their ability level.  Solo pieces must be memorized, but ensemble pieces (defined as partnerships of 2 or more individuals) need not be. We welcome very young performers as well as seasoned pre-professionals.

We especially encourage candidates to explore J.S. Bach’s ensemble works. While the magnificent compositions for solo instruments are always well represented in the Festival, there are also numerous sonatas, trio sonatas, concerti, instrumental movements from the cantatas, and transcriptions of ensemble pieces that provide flexibility in their instrumentation. The Festival accepts transcriptions (e.g. instrument substitutions) but not “arrangements” which contain editor’s additions. If a piece has a BWV number (even if it is labeled “spurious”), it qualifies for Junior Bach.

Lisa Grodin

The Festival will help students and teachers to network with young musicians who are eager to participate in a potential Festival ensemble. Students will apply through our website, www.juniorbach.org, and will be asked about their interest in ensemble participation.  Using this website, teachers and students can read further about all rules and requirements.

Please send any inquiries about the Festival to [email protected].

Lisa Grodin, Music Director, 2019–2020
Junior Bach Festival Association
[email protected]

Written by Jonathan Harris