Arts Events

Music on the Lawn

Grace Church offers concerts on the lawn on Thursdays in September, from 5:30–7 pm, and two or three times a year after a Sunday service. Bring a picnic supper or takeout from a local eatery, a bottle of wine or a cold beer if you wish, and enjoy some of D.C.’s leading musicians. Mostly jazz, with some folk, pop and rhythm and blues mixed in. Sometimes jazz musicians and poets perform together—an electric combination, where the readers’ voice becomes an instrument, and the instrument a poetic voice, all in an atmosphere of improvisation. See the News & Events section (This Week and Upcoming Events) for information on scheduled performances and readings.

Bach Festival

The Bach Festival has been held every year in July since 1993. Five recitals featuring superb musicians filled the church with classical music lovers. The Bach Festival is now organized and directed by organist/choir director Francine Maté and was originally created by former organist/choir director Larry Molinaro.

Keep an eye on the Upcoming Events page, beginning in May each year, for information about the upcoming festival. We suggest a donation of $20.00 for each recital.

2012 Back Festival Update

by Jeanne Jennings, newsletter editor

July 2012 saw the return of the annual Bach Festival to Grace Church. This was the 19th year the festival has been held and Francine Maté put together a varied and always enjoyable program.

I have a confession to make; while I love all types of music, I am not accomplished enough to differentiate between composers. But that didn’t impede my ability to enjoy the concerts.

The first concert featured Francine on organ and harpsichord along with more than half a dozen other musicians and singers. I was delighted with what I saw!

The Coffee Cantata, by Bach, is basically a mini comic opera about coffee addiction written in the 1700s. The singers were very animated, telling the story of a father who promises to find his daughter a husband if she’ll give up coffee. What he doesn’t know is that she’s making her own deals with potential suitors, telling them she won’t consent to marry them unless she’s allowed her fill of java.

The second concert featured Professor Roland Maria Stangier, from Essen, Germany, on organ. He opened with an improvisational homage to JS Bach in the form of a trio sonata. Trio sonatas can be written for multiple instruments (hence the “trio” in the name), but Bach wrote many solely for organ.

In Bach’s trio sonatas for organ, the right hand, left hand and pedals are each playing a different part, akin to rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. Professor Stangier played a number of additional pieces and ended his concert with another improvisation, a fantasie and fugue on themes provided by Francine.

Lawrence Molinaro, a Grace parishioner (and former organist of Grace Church) was the featured performer for the third concert. He performed “The Art of Fugue,” a treatise by Bach on fugue techniques which was initially thought to be unfinished at the time of his death.

Fugues are compositions built primarily on a single musical theme, called a “subject.” The subject is presented in its original state, then tweaked in a variety of ways so that it is recognizable but different throughout the remainder of the composition.

Molinaro pointed out that some musicologists now believe that this piece isn’t unfinished, but was intended as a learning tool for young musicians, who were to finish it, either through improvisation or written composition, on their own.

The festival concluded with a mesmerizing performance by David Bond, D.M.A. In addition to a trio sonata and a fugue by Bach, he performed works from Scarlatti and Walther, both contemporaries of the festival’s namesake.

We hope to see you next year at the 20th Annual Bach Festival. You won’t regret it, even if (like me) you don’t know your Bach from your Beethoven!

Arts and Literature Club

This group organizes outings to various cultural events, including concerts at the National Cathedral, plays and movies of interest, and other performances. Keep an eye on This Week at Grace and Upcoming Events to see what might interest you. Contact the Arts and Literature Club at

Photo of poetry event attendees
Poetry Coffeehouse
Saxophone player
Jazz performance
Francine Mate and Lawrence Molinaro
Francine Maté and Lawrence Molinaro
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