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VIDEO: Dozens of Musicians to Perform Bach in Subway Stations

Bach in the Subways
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DNAinfo/Sybile Penhirin

NEW YORK CITY New Yorkers will get a chance to welcome spring in classical style as dozens of musicians perform free Bach concerts March 21 on the city's subway platforms.

The event, named Bach in the Subways, was created by cellist Dale Henderson with the aim of offering classical music to people who don't have easy access to it.

“Classical music is everything that pop music claims to be — it's sexy, it's exciting, it's fun,” Henderson, 38, said. 

“But for several reasons — marketing, the creation of the recording industry —  people don’t get exposed to it much or they assume it's boring or it’s an old-white-guy thing. By bringing live-classical music for free, we aim to change that."

Henderson has been playing Bach in the subway for about five years, performing several times a week, mainly at 96th Street station on the Upper West Side.

He said he chose the German composer not only because he enjoyed playing his melodies, but also because he considered him a universal musician with many of his works adapted by pop and rock artists.

The subway, Henderson found, was one of the best places to touch people from all walks of life.

Henderson, who has been playing the cello since he was 5, picked March 21, the 330th anniversary of the Baroque composer's birth, for the event. Musicians from as far away as New Zealand and Japan plan to be involved.

Commuters got a preview of what Saturday would look like on March 14 when 250 musicians gathered on a platform of the West 4th Street station to perform one of the composer's pieces.


"This is such an exceptional setting. It's challenging; I'm more used to a silent room and here there are trains and passengers coming and going," said Harold Rosenbaum who conducted the volunteer choir Saturday. 

"But the result is beautiful. There is definitely something about Bach in the subway." said Rosenbaum, who won the prestigious Ditson Conductor's Award last year.

Commuters were quick to immortalize the performance by filming it with their smartphones, and many said they liked their first glimpse of Bach underground.

"I thought it was beautiful," said Esther Wong, 32, who watched the singers perform while waiting for her train on Saturday. "I think it is great to have beautiful music like this one to brighten your day. New Yorkers need that."

Bach in the Subways concerts are free and most musicians refuse donations as they want commuters to simply enjoy the music.

“It’s a gift with no strings attached,” Henderson said of the event.

This year, for the first time, the movement is raising money through an online campaign to pay for its organizational and operational fees, as well as things like fliers.

Some musicians have already disclosed where and at what time they will perform on Saturday. You can check it here.