Blend Baroque with Negro Spirituals and the Result is “The Spiritual Bach”

Plus the Mike Birgbilia hits up The Grand, the Chadds Ford art show and more.

organist Marvin Mills and soprano Marlissa Hudson

Go Tell It on the Mountain: Bach Has Soul

If you don’t associate baroque composers with traditional black music, check out “The Spiritual Bach: A Connection Across Space and Time” at First & Central Church in downtown Wilmington on March 22. The concert juxtaposes the organ works of J.S. Bach with Negro spirituals, as performed by organist Marvin Mills and soprano Marlissa Hudson. Philadelphia native Mills performs nationally and is director of music at All Souls Church in Washington, D.C. He was inspired by a friend who had studied in Vienna and was introduced to a spiritual connection between the two genres by legendary organist-composer Anton Heiler. Mills groups the music in pairs, alternating organ works of Bach with vocal arrangements of Negro spirituals that share a common mood, tempo and, sometimes, textual reference. Most of the organ pieces are based on Lutheran hymns. The spirituals are arrangements by noted composers of the genre. Mills carefully considered which spirituals to include, since they are played on organ rather than piano, but both fit surprisingly well. “Each genre has common elements distilled to an essence,” says Mills. “On one hand is a master musician with a great intellect at work; on the other, a people achieving a similar fruit through the oral tradition. Both exhibit aspects of simple, unassuming faith and a sense of hope.” Hudson is thrilled to perform such a unique program. “I love the versatility and the mixing of genres,” she says. “This concert definitely gives me room to stretch as an artist.” She notes that a few of the pieces have moved her to tears, which is rare. “I’ll be interested to hear what affected the audience in the most powerful way,” she says. Says Mills, “While the music represents different views of the world, at the root is a deep faith in something larger. Music can express universal emotions. If someone should experience a moment of peace, joy or even a forgotten sadness while listening, that would be quite special. Both artists have not only have a deep connection to the music, but also to each other. “Marvin is my musical soul mate,” Hudson says. “We often make beautiful moments happen with the greatest of ease; however, working through pain with the same ease is what frequently takes my breath away. I wouldn’t be anywhere near the artist I am today without his presence in my life.” Mills agrees. “I certainly couldn’t make this work without Marissa,” he says. “We inspire and challenge each other.”

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March 20
Event [IN Wilmington Promotional Pick of the Week] Back to Britain at the Music School of Delaware is a look at English music throughout the ages… More

March 21
Event The legend lives on. Join King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot in “Camelot,” one of the most beloved musicals ever. It starts tonight at Clear Space Theatre… More

March 21-22
Event The popular Chadds Ford Art Sale and Show features works by more than 70 professional artists from the Brandywine Valley and beyond. Be there. At the Chadds Ford Elementary School… More

March 22
Event Award-winning filmmaker, author and comedian Mike Birbiglia returns to the stage with more painfully awkward stories of telling jokes, and how that can get you in trouble… More
Event Wilmington Trap Stars: A Street Art Exhibit focuses on issues of inequality and violence in and around Wilmington through visual art, poetry, music and more. Get aware. It runs through June 15… More
Event Coastal Concerts welcomes virtuoso pianist Ching-Yun Hu for the final concert of its season at Bethel United Methodist Church Hall in Lewes… More

March 22-23
Event Ride a 1929 Pennsylvania Railroad railcar from the Hockessin Art Festival for a 40-minute round-trip through Yorklyn and Ashland, then check out the 25 artists on display… More

March 23
Event It’s time to lace up. The 51st Caesar Rodney Half Marathon marks the unofficial start to the Delaware running season with nearly 2,000 runners on a hilly course. Or try the 5K… More

March 24
Event More from the UK: The British are Coming retrospective of music for strings and pianos features faculty musicians at the UD… More


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