About the Consort
Founded in 1977 by the late Dr. J. Reilly Lewis, the Washington Bach Consort is a professional choral and orchestral ensemble based in Washington, DC, now led by Artistic Director, Dr. Dana Marsh. The Consort is committed to ensuring that current and future audiences experience the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries by:
1) performing the music of Bach and his contemporaries to the highest artistic standards,
2) sharing the joy of Bach’s music by broadening audiences in the nation’s capital,
3) nurturing the appreciation of Bach’s music through education and community outreach activities, and
4) interpreting the music of Bach for audiences of today, thereby ensuring his legacy.
The Bach Consort is noted for its historically informed performances of 18th-century music on period instruments. As one of the DC area’s most critically acclaimed and nationally recognized performing arts organizations, the Consort has made regular appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington Performing Arts, and the Cathedral Choral Society. In addition, the Consort has appeared at numerous festivals and presented three European tours. Recordings include Bach’s complete motets, both J.S. and C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificats, the first American recording of the F major and G minor masses, and three solo soprano cantatas with opera luminary Elizabeth Futral. Furthermore, the Consort completed Bach’s entire 215-cantata cycle. In association with this monumental achievement, the Library of Congress welcomed the Washington Bach Consort performance recording and concert program archives into its permanent collection.
We are committed to making Bach’s vital works accessible to the Washington area’s diverse audiences, including students who may be hearing Bach for the first time. Based on our strong belief that this music has the power to change lives, all of our education programs are offered free of charge. In evaluations, the vast majority of DC teachers tell us the Consort fills a critical need by providing one of the only live, classical music education experiences for their students.
In August 2018, the Bach Consort welcomed Dana Marsh as our new Artistic Director. Acclaimed by The Washington Post as “a superb choral conductor, energetic and precise,” Marsh is an accomplished organist, vocalist, conductor and musicologist. He serves as Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Historical Performance Institute at Indiana University, where he has directed a broad range of performances and NPR broadcasts. Marsh succeeds our beloved founder, J. Reilly Lewis, who led the Washington Bach Consort for 39 years until his untimely passing in 2016.
In May 2019, the Council of the District of Columbia honored Washington Bach Consort in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the Consort’s free classical music performances. In their written proclamation, the Council cited the Consort’s musical mission to “enrich the quality of life” by “recognizing that not everyone is able to afford a regular subscription concert ticket” and celebrated the Consort’s attempt to “reach as many people as possible.”