Quodlibet & Circus

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for piano, instrumentalist, audience-volunteer spoken-word choir, and a recording of The Goldberg Variations (8 min.)

“The Bachs not only displayed a happy contentedness, indispensable for the cheery enjoyment of life, but exhibited a clannish attachment to each other.  They could not all live in the same locality. But it was their habit to meet once a year at a time and place arranged beforehand…On these occasions music was their sole recreation.  As those present were either Cantors, Organists, or Town Musicians, employed in the service of the Church and accustomed to preface the day’s work with prayer, their first act was to sing a Hymn.  Having fulfilled their religious duty, they spent the rest of the time in frivolous recreation.  Best of all they liked to extemporise a chorus out of popular songs, comic or jocular, weaving them into a harmonious whole while declaiming the words of each. They called this hotch-potch a ‘quodlibet,’ laughed uproariously at it, and roused equally hearty and irrepressible laughter in their audience”

-from Forkel, Johann N., Johann Sebastian Bach, New York:  Harcourt, 1920, 7-8.

Quodlibet & Circus invites the audience to speak the texts of Billboard No.1 “bread and circuses” from the past several years within the context of helping to create a sort of Cagean “Musicircus”.