While not considered a great composer during his lifetime, Johann Sebastian Bach created more than 1,100 works, three of which were pressed onto golden records and sent into space aboard the Voyager spacecrafts as a representation of humanity’s virtue. It is a sweet reward for a talent that was underpaid, undervalued, and frankly obstructed by the church, which often employed the composer. During Bach’s 27-year tenure as cantor in Leipzig, he worked assiduously, creating an original cantata for every Sunday and every feast day of the year. Still, it is his secular works that spring to mind as masterpieces, which makes Noontime Concerts the perfect setting to celebrate Bach’s 327th Birthday. This series, which began nearly a quarter of a century ago, is resolutely not a church program, but its locale cannot be taken for granted. The Paulist fathers have overseen this intersection between Chinatown and the Financial District for more than 100 years. (The cathedral was erected in 1854.) An inscription under the clock face warns those who once frequented the brothels within eyeshot: “Son, observe the time and fly from evil.” Bach, who was above all a most diligent man, would have surely approved. Among pieces performed today are Sonata for Violin, BWV 1017, and Sonata for Viola da Gamba, BWV 1029.
Tue., March 20, 12:30 p.m., 2012