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Neil Graham, a self-proclaimed, “wild about Bach” subscriber and donor, has been a J.S. Bach enthusiast for over 40 years. His first memory of Bach goes back to being a young teenager and learning to play the piano. He wasn’t much of a fan of lessons at the time, but his music teacher introduced him to J.S. Bach and the Two-Part Inventions, and Graham quickly took a liking.
Graham’s fondness for Bach continued but it wasn’t until he heard Glen Gould’s performance of The Well-Tempered Clavier (Books 1 and 2) and the Goldberg Variations that he realized how great and transformative Bach’s music can be.
Graham can’t remember exactly when he attended a performance of the Washington Bach Consort or when he first saw J. Reilly Lewis, but as an Arlington native, he does remember the founding of the Consort in 1977, Reilly’s enormous talent and charisma, and his delight in seeing Senator Rockefeller in the audience when he attended concerts.
“The Washington Bach Consort is a unique institution in the DC area,” says Graham. He describes the Consort as consistently inspirational, offering uncompromising quality and a deeply informed commitment to Bach’s work and legacy.
Reilly was inspiring to many, including Graham, who found him to be not only a musical genius but a great public spokesman and ambassador for Bach and the transformative power of music.
“It was always reassuring to know that there was someone in the DC community like Reilly, with his great musical knowledge, taste, and ability, who was always working to bring first-class performances of Bach and the Baroque period to local audiences,” recalls Graham.
“It would be a real loss to see an organization like Washington Bach Consort disappear from the cultural scene in the DC area,” Graham thought as he was sketching out his estate plans in 2016. This thought motivated him to think about the legacy of the Consort and what he could do to help preserve it. It was then he decided to include the Bach Consort in his will.
When talking about his giving, Graham describes himself as “just a small fry.” But when Reilly passed “it made me more determined to increase my annual giving and also to ensure that the Consort could continue and thrive in the future through a planned gift.”
Graham hopes that his bequest will help to carry on the great work of the Consort, including the educational programs that benefit the DC Public Schools. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the Consort’s programs in the DC schools and would very much like to see the Consort expand in the region. As a teenager, he would have been thrilled if the Bach Consort had come to his high school in Virginia.
Forever a Bach enthusiast, he has recently bought a digital piano and is learning to play Bach all over again.