The Bach Tree: Cultivating Creative and Collaborative Musicians

Annual Workshop and Residency Program

Step far beyond the musical page to develop your creative and collaborative skills and amplify your craft. In this program you will work with internationally acclaimed and well-travelled musicians Dinuk Wijeratne and Nick Halley. An intensive workshop using the extraordinary Bach Canons as a foundation for performance, composition and improvisation, with an aim to broaden the skill set and imaginations of all participants. This program will combine group and one-on-one learning tailored to the individual’s goals and interests including styles of improvisation, composition, and performance techniques. Participants work on elements of their project in-between meeting times, and the program culminates in a showcase presenting work created in this weekend workshop. Questions? contact melissa@wcc-ma.org

A special 2019 addition to the program, participants will be part of a performance of a new piece by Dinuk Wijeratne commissioned by the Saint-Gaudens Memorial and performed at the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park on Sept 28th during the annual Sculptural Visions event. The sessions during that day will be held in the Little Studio at the park. There is no fee to participate in the Saint-Gaudens portion of the Bach Tree.

Times for this workshops will be set based on participant groups, and generally consist of 2-3 hours per day for each group. There can be some scheduling accommodation if participants have timing conflicts on some days.

This project is made possible in part by a grant from the NH State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is funded in part by the Expeditions Planning program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England state arts agencies.

What to bring: A single line melody you have written, your instrument of choice, any burning music questions you may have, and an inquisitive brain. We will send you a short form to complete prior to the openning session.

Who is this for?: Everyone from musicians with a few years of music study under their belt to professional musicians. We’ll have groups and offerings tailored to your levels. Auditors are also welcome. This is a great opportunity for teachers to get professional development hours, for professionals to explore new areas of musicianship, and for younger students to break off the written page. 

Showcase: Participants will be able share what they have created or participated in at the culminating Showcase for friends, family, and the public on on the final day of the workshop.

How much does this cost?: Suggested donation to participate for the entire project is:

Adults $130 nonmembers/$100 members

Students $100 non member / $50 members (including WCCMA students)

Rhythm Workshop only – $10 non members / free for members (including WCCMA students)

Auditors $25 each day/ $15 members

Scholarships are available, please contact melissa@wcc-ma.org.

During 2019 we have funds to provide a limited number of scholarships for New England Music Educators, students of participating educators, and professional musicians. Educators will also receive in-school residency time with the instructors in late winter/spring, and the opportunity to work one on one with a topic or skill they would like to add or grow for their classroom.

Participants will be split into groups:

Group A is typically youth participants (students with an intermediate or higher comfort with their instrument, and are middle school age or older). Participants in this group should be comfortable with basic music notation and be able to play a Bb scale on their instrument confidently. Members of this group may ask about also participating in or auditing group B sessions.

Group B will be aimed at professional adults and other advanced musicians. All participants should have a familiarity with their instrument (all types welcome), and a general understanding of basic music theory. Members of this group are welcome to also attend Group A sessions, which will be focusing on additional topics.Participants will be asked before the workshops what they would most like get out of the workshop, and the desired topics will shape what each group focuses on. That could be composition, improvisation, or other collaborative music skills.

Every year is different and shifts based on the participants for a rich unique experience even year.

During 2019 we have funds to provide a limited number of scholarships for New England Music Educators, students of participating educators, and professional musicians. Educators will also receive in-school residency time with the instructors in late winter/spring, and the opportunity to work one on one with a topic or skill they would like to add or grow for their classroom.

Payment may be made by check (see information here http://www.wcc-ma.org/donate-now), in person at the event (please let us know you would like this payment option), or below via Paypal. 

Bach Tree Registration (includes a processing fee)



Rhythm Workshop: This is open to musicians of any level (ages 10 and up), and is an off the page exploration of types of complex rhythm; great for young musicians!

The participants will be split into groups:

Group A is typically youth participants (students with an intermediate or higher comfort with their instrument, and are middle school age or older). Participants in this group should be comfortable with basic music notation and be able to play a Bb scale on their instrument confidently. Members of this group may ask about also participating in or auditing group B sessions.

Group B will be aimed at professional adults and other advanced musicians. All participants should have a familiarity with their instrument (all types welcome), and a general understanding of basic music theory. Members of this group are welcome to also attend Group A sessions, which will be focusing on additional topics.

Participants will be asked before the workshops what they would most like get out of the workshop, and the desired topics will shape what each group focuses on. That could be composition, improvisation, or other collaborative music skills. Every year is different and shifts based on the participants for a rich unique experience even year.

Tentative Schedule:

Friday Sept 27 – Union Church campus, 133 Old Church Rd, Claremont, NH

2:30 pm – 5pm – Audit of Dinuk Wijeratne Trio rehearsal, including the commissioned piece 5pm – 6pm – Meet and Greet and Pot Luck Dinner
6:30 – Dinuk Wijeratne Trio Concert (admission included for Bach Tree Participants)

Saturday Sept 28 – Bach Tree at Saint-Gaudens, Little Studio during Sculptural Visions Event (no fee to participate in this Bach Tree activity)

10:30 – 12:30 [All Participants] Welcome, workshopping the new piece
12:30 – 1:30 Break for lunch and walking around
1:30 Performance of Centennial Commissioned piece
1:45 – 3:30 [All Participants] Group conversation around session topics,
3:30 Encore performance
4pm Final throughts for the day, reviewing remaining schedule and groups, scheduling additional one on one time (location TBA)

Sunday Sept 29 – Union Church campus, 133 Old Church Rd, Claremont, NH

10:30am – 1:30pm Single Group Session [TBD participants]
1:30 – 2:30 Lunch Break [All Participants]
2:30 pm ~ 3:30 pm Rhythm Workshop [All Participants]
3:30 – 6:30 pm Single Group Session [TBD participants]

Monday Sept 30 – Union Church campus, 133 Old Church Rd, Claremont, NH

3:30 – 6:00pm Full Group Showcase Prep
6:00 – 7:00pm Showcase

If you are not able to participate in all of the weekend activities you can still attend, please just let us know your conflicts so that we can plan accordingly and adjust the schedule where possible.

REGISTER to participate in the Bach Tree

Check all options that apply (required) Performing MusicianMusic StudentMusic TeacherOther Musician

Would you consider yourself: (required) ProfessionalSemi-ProfessionalStudentAmateur

Do you have any time restrictions during the residency days?

Please share a little about your music background and the music that you make or participate in. Please share the school you work or study at, if applicable:

What burning questions do you have? What would you like to explore during our time? Is there an area that you would like to expand your knowledge in?

If you are a school music teacher, would you be interested in residency times at a later date where the instructors visit your classroom to work on your topics of interest? This could be for professional development or as visiting artists, and would be designed based on conversations with you: YesNo

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Sri Lankan-Canadian Dinuk Wijeratne is a JUNO, SOCAN, ECMA, and Masterworks-winning composer, conductor and pianist who has been described by the New York Times as ‘exuberantly creative’ and by the Toronto Star as ‘an artist who reflects a positive vision of our cultural future’. His boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, Tabla players and DJs, and takes him to international venues as poles apart as the Berlin Philharmonie and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Dinuk has also appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Boulez Saal, Kennedy Center, Opera Bastille, Teatro Colón, and across Sri Lanka, Japan, the UK, and the Middle East. Dinuk was featured as a main character in ‘What would Beethoven do?’ – the documentary about innovation in Classical music featuring Eric Whitacre, Bobby McFerrin and Ben Zander. Dinuk grew up in Dubai and took up initial composition studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (UK), later studying with Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano at the Juilliard School. Dinuk has composed specially for almost all of the artists and ensembles with whom he has performed; to name a few: Suzie LeBlanc, Kinan Azmeh, Joseph Petric, David Jalbert, Bev Johnston, Zakir Hussain, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Sandeep Das, Tim Garland, Nick Halley, Ed Thigpen, Ramesh Misra, Ed Hanley, Eric Vloeimans, Buck 65, the Gryphon Trio, the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, TorQ Percussion, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Afiara and Cecilia String Quartets, and the symphony orchestras of Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Nova Scotia, Buffalo, Illinois, Windsor, Victoria, Asheville, and Thunder Bay. His music and collaborative work embrace the great diversity of his international background and influences.

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Nick Halley is a drummer/percussionist, keyboardist, composer, and conductor. As a drummer and world percussionist, Nick has performed and recorded internationally with a range of musicians including American icon James Taylor, Oscar Castro-Neves, Maucha Adnet, David McGuinness & Revenge of the Folk Singers, Concerto Caledonia, Jefferson Hamer & Eamon O’Leary, Old Man Luedecke & Tim O’Brien, the Chris Norman Ensemble, various Paul Halley ensembles, Suzie LeBlanc, Theresa Thomason, Diomira with Dinuk Wijeratne & Joseph Petric, and occasionally the Nick Halley Band.  The recording Barnum Hill (2008) features Nick and his ensemble performing some of Nick’s original compositions.

Nick is the founder and Artistic Director of the Capella Regalis Men and Boys Choir in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He is the founder and Director of The King’s Chorus, a choir for members of the King’s and Dalhousie University communities in Halifax.  Nick is also the Assistant Director of the acclaimed University of King’s College Chapel Choir directed by his father, Paul Halley.  He is Cantor and Director for the chapel’s male Compline choir.  He is now also Assistant Director of Music at the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax.  In 2012, Nick was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his contribution to Canada and Nova Scotia through the arts, particularly for his work with Capella Regalis Men and Boys Choir.  Nick was the Host of CBC’s Choral Concert for the 2013-14 season. 

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Recognized as an innovative and effective leader and arts professional, Melissa Richmond is an experienced non profit executive leader, educator, and performer. In 2015 she was awarded the 2015 Governor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Arts Leadership for her work with the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts and the City of Claremont. Melissa has a passion for collaboration, inspiring music makers, and access for all that drives her approach to program creation, performance presenting, and education. In performance she is regarded as a sensitive collaborator and engaging soloist.

Melissa graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Music Degree as a flute/piccolo major, and from New England College with an MS Management Degree in Non-Profit Leadership. During her music degree she studied flute with Elizabeth Dubois McCarthy, flute/piccolo with Christine Feierabend, conducting with Dr. Dinuk Wijeratne, composition/arranging with Dr Jérôme Blais, and music history and musicology with Dr. David Schroeder. Thanks to Dr. Blais she enjoyed hearing her first composition “A Moment” being read in 2008 by the Canadian trio Toca Loca.

Melissa lives in Claremont, NH, and is working to enhance music and arts in the region. In 2008 she founded the Summer Concert Series at Union Church, which has now expanded into the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts (WCCMA). She is currently the Executive Director of WCCMA, and Music Director for Saint-Gaudens Memorial. She is also active on local boards and commissions for the City of Claremont, and the Claremont MakerSpace.

During her work with WCCMA and SGM Melissa maintains a performing arts program hosting local, national, and internationally recognized musicians. Through WCCMA she also founded the Youth Arts Enrichment Initiative that gives students access to musical instruments, lessons, workshops, and artist residencies. Melissa particularly loves developing programming for rural and underserved communities in collaboration with inspiring artists. Among her favorite partnered projects to date were the commissioning and world premiere performance of Kinan Azmeh’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (soloist), and the public art sculpture “Our Hand Then and Now” by Ernest Montenegro, both completed in 2014 in honor of Claremont’s 250th Anniversary.

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Jon Suters (upright bass, Dinuk Wijeratne Trio) was born into a musical family in Long Island, NY and began studying violin at age 9, piano at 10, and double bass at 11. At age 12, Jon started to teach himself guitar and became so enamoured of the instrument and repertoire, that he started guitar lessons with classical guitarists Ed Flower and later Richard Provost. Jon continued his guitar studies as an adult with Ben Verdery, with whom he studied from 2003-2005.

Jon began giving guitar and bass lessons while still in high school and has had a strong roster of private students ever since. He is a part-time music teacher at Berkshire Country Day School in Stockbridge, MA and has taught at Simon’s Rock, Pittsfield Music School, Austen Riggs Center, and Flying Cloud Institute.

Jon’s work as a professional bassist and guitarist includes many and varied clubs, concerts, and events across the States and Canada. Major artists include: Charles Neville, Paul Halley, Dr. John, Eugene Friesen, Sonya Kitchell, Jimmy Buffett, Sara McLaughlin, and James Taylor. He has performed in bands with Horatio Hernandez, Tim Rey, Larry Goldings, Russ Konkel, Dean Parks, Nick Halley, Jamey Haddad, Matt Brewer, Owen Young, and Eric Struthers.

Jon continues to perform regularly throughout the region and beyond, including at The Edith Wharton Mount in Lenox, MA where he helped curate The Mount’s “Music After Hours” summer concert series.