Bach Transcends “The Usual Forms” in 2023 Festival Artwork

ConservatoryBach and Beyond

Music is not the only medium representing the Baldwin Wallace 2023 Bach Festival: for perhaps the first time, a work of visual art has been selected as a Festival feature.

While a portrait of Bach himself has adorned the program books and other media of the last decade, Conservatory Communications Manager Jenny Taraba sought a new direction in designing materials for 2023. She searched online for artwork associated with this year’s featured composition, uncovering a perfect match: High Mass in B Minor By J.S. Bach (2015) by Olha Kizub (b. 1968.)

Kizub, a Ukrainian artist, spent her childhood pursuing every opportunity to create. When no paper was available, she peeled back carpets and covered walls to paint on every available surface of her home. Her family’s piano was also a site for many forms of creation: her drawings and music alike were embodied onto the instrument. This blending of art forms continues into her professional career, as many of her paintings depict musical works in her own visual interpretation. Of High Mass in B Minor By J.S. Bach, the artist writes:

Bach's music overcomes the usual forms, goes beyond the gravity of the earth. To the sounds of the High Mass, the vaults of the Gothic cathedral open like the petals of an exotic flower. Together with the powerful chords of the organ, you fly into outer space, to heaven, to meet the shining Spirit.

With generous support from the Kulas Foundation and great enthusiasm from Kizub’s gallery, BW purchased the painting and associated rights. Shipped from Ukraine via Poland, the painting arrived at the Conservatory in late January.

Kizub’s painting complements another tribute to Ukraine by the Conservatory: earlier in the spring semester, the Baldwin Wallace Symphony Orchestra premiered Hope Has Not Yet Perished (Ще не вмерла надія) by Music Composition major Tyler Hodgson ’24. Inspired by the deep sense of hope held by his Ukrainian friends and loved ones, Hodgson utilized folk songs and national music to portray the “tragedy, somberness, chaos, hope, and uncertainty” of the war. The BWSO’s performance of Hope Has Not Yet Perished is available on Hodgson’s YouTube channel.

The painting will be on display throughout the Festival, including during the Riemenschneider Bach Institute (RBI) open house on Friday afternoon. The annual Bach Festival shirts—a fundraiser for BW’s chapter of Ohio Collegiate Music Educators Association (OCMEA)—also feature the art in an array of apparel options.


Written by Destinee Siebe '19
BW Conservatory of Music Concert Production & Scheduling Coordinator.

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