Jeremy Denk’s Ambitious Undertakings, On Recording And In Concert, For 2013–14

Funk, folk and rock cut through rain at Avett Brothers’ concert on the Bangor Waterfront

This was definitely our most diverse year of the four years weve been going, said Gray. We had the biggest jam band in the world in Phish ; we had Kenny Chesney , who is perceived as [one of the] biggest country acts in the world; and we had successful first forays into pop and hip-hop with Ke$ha and Lil Wayne . We wanted to expand our offerings, and that definitely came to fruition. Aside from the rainy Avett Brothers concert, there were a few memorable shows, meteorologically speaking, including the Toby Keith Labor Day concert with torrential downpours, the lightning storm that put an early end to Rob Zombies performance at the Mayhem Festival , and a steamy start to the Phish concert. Overall, however, the weather cooperated for the concerts though heavy amounts of rainfall in July meant lots of muddy shoes and eventually unpleasant odors from drainage problems with the waterlogged sod . I think one of the things that sets our fans apart is that they wont let anything chase them away, whether its torrential downpours during Toby Keith, its extreme heat, or its thunderstorms, said Gray. We had the wettest summer on record, but we also had our biggest shows yet. That speaks volumes to the people who come to the waterfront. Gray admits there have been some growing pains this year, including the bad-smelling soggy sod and the controversy surrounding noise in neighborhoods near and not-so-near the venue . While the smelly sod issue was addressed relatively quickly when city crews put gravel down on the pit and seated areas of the venue, the noise complaints remain a challenge. Nevertheless, Gray is working on the 2014 season. He and his crew already are close to booking their first acts for next summer. We are holding the biggest names in the world, and were close to confirming our first act.

Jon Anderson

My position begins with what Bach did with this music after he had committed it to notes on the page. It became the fourth and last part of a series of published volumes he called Clavier-Ubung (keyboard practice). These four volumes (one, the third, for organ) were presumably intended for pedagogical purposes. As I have previously argued, Bachs approach to keyboard proficiency involved the ability to combine the physical demands of technical skill with the mental demands of invention. One might say that, for any given composition, Bach was more interested in a student who could play it imaginatively, rather than one who could only play it straight. Johann Nikolaus Forkel is responsible for the best-known story about the origins of BWV 988. The name Goldberg is that of Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who was employed by Count Hermann Karl von Keyserlingk, the former Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony. The Count was an insomniac, who suggested to Bach that music might help him endure his sleepless nights. Bach obliged by providing Goldberg with 30 variations on an aria theme. While this is a good story, it overlooks the fact that Goldberg had studied with Bach. Thus, Bach may have seen Keyserlingks insomnia as both an opportunity for some generous compensation (a golden goblet filled with 100 louis-dor, if we are to believe Forkel) and a means to keep Goldberg on his toes as an able pupil. Those 30 variations certainly cover both sides of Bachs pedagogical coin, the technical skill to manage all the notes on the page and the imaginative stimulus of 30 different approaches to invention, nine of which were canons (each on a different interval) and one of which was a quodlibet that wove the theme in between two popular songs. Goldberg was thus the beneficiary of a pedagogical resource that had as much teach as the preceding Clavier-Ubung volumes. What does this tell us about the experience of listening to BWV 988, particularly for those of us who are wide awake at the time and wish to stay that way? As I see it, the implication is that those of us who approach this music on the audience side of a concert hall are doing little more than eavesdropping on a document of a major lesson from teacher to student. Given the broad and imaginative scope of that document, I have no trouble calling the teacher a master; and I suspect that Goldberg himself would have done the same.