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The strangest thing at this summer’s Fort Reno concerts won’t be Ian MacKaye singing the same song twice. While the free, outdoor music series has its usual mix of punk, hardcore, and indie rock in this year’s lineup, tonight it’s throwing something of a curveball: Bach.
Like any local act trying to play Fort Reno’s rickety red stage, the Washington Bach Consort, a well-regarded Baroque orchestra, had to apply by sending in a recording. After the ensemble’s executive director, Marc Eisenberg, applied, he says he spoke to Fort Reno organizer Amanda MacKaye. “And she was like, ‘What the heck is this?’,” he says. “And we kind of talked about our objectives and she was into it. We’re very pleasantly surprised.”
Part of the Washington Bach Consort’s mission is to expand appreciation of Johann Sebastian Bach and other Baroque composers. Fort Reno, surprisingly, struck Eisenberg as a good venue for the group’s classical music outreach. “It’s not like every single night is perfect or anything,” Eisenberg says, “but Fort Reno really has a lot of open-eared listeners.”
When Eisenberg put out a call for the small group of musicians that will play tonight, he had to pitch them on performing for free—-everyone at Fort Reno, including the talent, is a volunteer. Still, he says there was interest within the consort, including from cellist Amy Domingues, a classical musician who also makes smart, stripped down pop songs as Garland of Hours and has played on albums by Fugazi, Bob Mould, Mary Timony, Ted Leo, and other local indie-rock names.
The Washington Bach Consort’s program tonight includes music by Bach, Dieterich Buxtehude, George Frideric Handel, and Arcangelo Corelli. In addition to Domingues on cello, the ensemble for the show includes soprano singer Laura Choi Stuart and violinists Caroline Levy and Annie Loud.
Also on tonight’s bill: Bearshark, a playful, noisy post-rock quartet. “Amanda had us as the headliner, but I think we’re actually gonna go first,” says Eisenberg. “We don’t [usually] do this kind of thing, we do indoors. We think it’ll be better to play the soft music before the loud music.”
As always, tonight’s Fort Reno show begins at 7:15 p.m. and ends by 9:30. Bring babies, not booze.
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