Page 66

18676FC

J ohann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) never actually visited Winter Park, of course. But it’s a safe bet that the German master would feel right at home in a city that hosts the nation’s third-oldest continuously operated Bach Festival. And he would certainly find a kindred spirit in Dr. John V. Sinclair, 61, chair of the Department of Music at Rollins College and artistic director of the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, where he’s celebrating his 25th year wielding the baton. That auspicious anniversary was commemorated in April 2016 with the world premiere of an original work commissioned in Sinclair’s honor, “Music, Awake!” The composer was Paul Moravec, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in music for “Tempest Fantasy,” and the libretto was by Terry Teachout, drama critic for the Wall Street Journal and biographer of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. The thrilling nine-minute masterpiece, which celebrated the power of music to heal and inspire, was performed to two packed houses at the college’s Knowles Memorial Chapel by the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra under the direction of — you guessed it — John V. Sinclair. It was a fitting tribute to Sinclair and a worthy addition to the repertoire of the festival itself, which was first held in 1935 as a single Sunday performance commemorating Bach’s 250th birthday. Now there are concerts virtually year round — many of which feature internationally renowned guest soloists — leading up to the main event in February. There’s a 160-member choir and a permanent orchestra, which has made four European tours and performed with the Bach Choir of London in Royal Albert Hall and in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. And the music, despite the organization’s name, isn’t limited to Bach. Or, on occasion, even to classical music. By the time Sinclair was hired by the college in 1985, the society and 64 LIVING IN WINTER PARK The Bach Festival Choir performs major works by Bach and other classical and even contemporary composers. its annual festival had for decades been the personal domain of John M. Tiedtke, a shrewd businessman who had made his fortune growing sugar, citrus and corn in South Florida. Rollins President Hugh McKean had asked his boyhood friend to take charge in 1950, when founding society president Isabelle Sprague-Smith died and the organization’s future seemed in doubt. The no-nonsense Tiedtke proved a fortuitous choice. He loved music — he played a little piano, but mostly enjoyed listening — and was a consistent and generous donor to community-based arts organizations. At Rollins, he had been treasurer and chairman of the board of trustees. McKean, an iconic Winter Park figure, had been an art professor at Rollins before his elevation to the presidency. He had also married Jeannette Morse Genius, granddaughter of Charles Hosmer Morse, a benevolent industrialist who had helped shape modern Winter Park. “Mr. Tiedtke and Dr. McKean understood that with great wealth comes responsibility,” says Sinclair, who still refers to both men using formal titles, even in casual conversation. “They would have lunch together every Saturday. They started inviting me to come along, and those lunches were hugely interesting.” Sinclair, who says he sometimes felt “a little like a third wheel,” would listen in awe as the old friends discussed art, philosophy and the events of the day. They would even spar over who should pay the tab. After 40 years of lunches, McKean joked, he remembered only a handful of times when Tiedtke picked up the bill. But when the subject of the society came up, it was clear that Tiedtke, the primary funder as well as the hands-on boss, called the shots. A Rollins professor had always done double duty as the society’s artistic director, and Sinclair was eager to take the helm. “That’s what enticed me to the school,” Sinclair says. “There were other offers on the table, but Rollins had the Bach Festival.”


18676FC
To see the actual publication please follow the link above