The Austin Chronicle

Have You 'Herd'?

By Robert Faires, January 5, 2013, 10:00am, All Over Creation

For the past two years, La Follia Austin Baroque has dedicated its first concert of the year to the harpsichord music of J.S. Bach. Now, it might come as a surprise – as it did to the La Follians – to know that both concerts sold out. That being the case, would you doubt that the group would schedule a third program of Bach harpsichord music?

Course not.

You may be wondering, however, what material there could be in Herd the Third: More Concerti by Bach for Multiple Harpsichords that wasn't already covered in Bach's Herd of Harpsichords and Return of the Herd of Harpsichords? I mean, how much did ol' Johann Sebastian actually write for the instrument?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Fifteen concerti, split among works for one harpsichord (six), two harpsichords (three), three (two), and four (one), with a couple that teamed the instrument with a flute and violin – and the first two Herd programs covered fewer than half of those. So Artistic Director and keyboard wizard Keith Womer doesn't have to repeat himself this year or next, if we're fortunate enough to have have a fourth visit by the Herd.

That said, Womer is not above including material beyond the borders of the Bach harpsichord concerti. Last year, it was the composer's Fourteen Canons on the Goldberg Grounds, a splendid set of increasingly elaborate variations. This year, it's a concerto for four harpsichords composed in 2010 – just the other day in classical music terms – by Asako Hirabayashi. The Minneapolis-based composer will be present to play her work with Womer, JiMin Kim, and Jeffrey Jones-Ragona.

So you have at least as many reasons for attending the concert as there will be harpsichords being played. Just don't wait to secure a ticket. If the past two years are any indication, there's a herd of harpsichord fans stampeding the box office.

Herd the Third: More Concerti by Bach for Multiple Harpsichords takes place Saturday, Jan. 5, 8pm, and Sunday, Jan. 6, 3pm, at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa. For more information, call 879-6404 or visit

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