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April 10, 1992 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-04-10

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Sesame
Meet
NorthU
by Darcy Lockman
Sunny days, sweeping the clouds
away ... Can you tell me how to get,
how to get to ... Hill Auditorium?
Sesame Street's Bob McGrath
might be singing this familiar tune
Saturday night when he comes back
to Ann Arbor to perform with the
Men's Glee Club. Chances are he
won't need to ask directions, though.
McGrath himself is a University
alumnus.
McGrath, who has played the
role of Bob on Sesame Street since
its experimental beginning 23 years
ago, graduated from the University
in 1954 and is, in his own words,
"psyched!" to return to Ann Arbor.
"It's going to be terrific. I haven't
sung with the Glee Club since about
1967 when they were touring Japan
at the same time I was there," he
says.
The Men's Glee Club will ac-
company McGrath, a former Glee
Club president, in renditions of "The
Rainbow Connection" and "Danny
Boy." He says, "The two pieces I
picked are ones I thought would
sound really good with men's voi-
ces."

The Michigan Daily - Friday, April10, 1992- Page 9
Lehman goes Bach to the fugue

by Liz Patton
Make way for the Bachmeister! Harpsichordist Brad
Lehman performs J. S. Bach's "Art of Fugue" (Die
Kunst der Fuge) this Saturday at the School of Music.
Lehman has been studying this monumental final work
of the immortal Bach this semester as an independent
study with Professor Ed Parmentier.
The last published work of Bach, "The Art of
Fugue" is a huge collection of fugues and canons.
Though the art of contrapuntal music can seem dry and
intellectual on the page, the music unfolds with a care-
ful balance of serenity and excitement. "This is really
fun music," says Lehman, "to be enjoyed as both an in-
tellectual trip and as gorgeous sound."
There are fourteen movements labeled "Contra-
punctus," which resemble fugues. Each one demon-
strates a different aspect of fugal technique. Bach
showed here a great flexibility in composition: acade-
mic rules aren't as important as artistic expression.
Part of Lehman's project involved the examination
of different arrangements of this music for performing
forces ranging from saxophone quartet to chamber or-
chestra to jazz vocal ensemble. Bach himself probably
intended it for solo harpsichord or organ. Says Lehman,
"The piece is so rich that every arrangement brings out
a new delightful aspect of his musicality."
He adds, "This piece has been seen traditionally as
purely contemplative music, not intended for perfor-
mance, but it is only in performance that the unity and
diversity of the whole are comprehended. As the techni-
cally awkward spots are conquered, the music becomes
infinitely rewarding. Playing the whole thing is like
going through a liturgy: something new and unexpected
turns up each time as the attention is focused differ-
ently."
Many scholarly investigations hinge on juicy ques-

tions of provenance and authenticity. For the "Art of
Fugue," there are uncertainties in the ordering of the
pieces, their instrumentation, and the chronology of
their composition. But the biggest question is the end-
ing. Like a mystery novel with its final denouement torn
out, the last fugue is incomplete.
Bach is traditionally said to have composed this
piece at the end of his life when he was going blind
from cataracts. Several strokes prevented him from fin
ishing the last fugue, which breaks off right after the
exposition of the third subject (where the notes spell
Bach's name, a favorite trick of his). It may be that the
final page was simply lost. But Lehman offers another
interesting explanation - Bach may have intended to
leave it open-ended, as if to say with the whole work,
"Here, I've shown you how it's done, now it's your turn
to carry on the art of fuguing."
Various editors and composers have attempted to
complete the last fugue. Everyone has a different solu-
tion, but most of them have one common factor. There
is a subject in every other movement that has not yet
been heard. Like the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle it
works very well in combination with the other three
subjects of Bach's final fugue.
Lehman will play an altered version of a completion.
by Erich Bergel. He says, "I used all the creative tricks
and shortcuts I have found that Bach himself used in all
of his harpsichord music." He adds, "More than any
other piece I know, this one has taught me a lot about
general music-making principles, composition, expres-
sion, and diverse practice techniques."
Harpsichordist BRAD LEHMAN performs "The Art of
Fugue" Saturday at the Music School's Blanche At-
derson Moore recital hall (lowest level), at 8 p.m. Ad-
mission is free.

Bob McGrath is gleefully making his way to Ann Arbor to sing with the
Men's Glee Club. How will they measure up against Big Bird? You judge.

The Glee Club wasn't the only
organization in which McGrath was
involved as a University student. A
music major, he was also president
of his class and a member of Fiji
fraternity.
It was as a member of Fiji that
McGrath met Dave Connor, Sesame
Street's original executive producer.
"Dave and I were both Phi Gams -
and became friends working together
in the kitchen at Alpha Phi. I ran into

him (over ten years later) by chance
and he asked me if I'd be interested
in performing on a new kid's show,"
remembers McGrath.
While children's television was
not a direction in which McGrath
thought his vocal career was head-
ing, he changed his mind after seeing
See BOB, Page 12

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