Bach Society of Dayton prepares holiday concert under new leadership

For the first time in 20 years, the Bach Society of Dayton is ushering in the holidays under new leadership.

The troupe’s 2022-2023 season, continuing Sunday, Dec. 4 with “Sweet Sounds of the Holidays,” is overseen by David Crean, who was appointed as music director in July. The all-volunteer chorus known for performing major choral works with orchestra had been led by John Neely since its founding in 2002.

Crean, a New York native who grew up on Long Island, is a conductor, teacher, recitalist, church musician, and radio personality. As an organist, he has concertized throughout the United States and completed two concert tours of Australia, where he gave several Australian premieres and performed on historic organs. Other recent highlights include the Poulenc organ concerto with the Bach Society of Dayton, recitals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and St. Thomas Fifth Ave., and several programs for American Guild of Organists (AGO) chapters.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

“I’ve always wanted to conduct a larger choir that had the capacity to do big, multi-movement works with a good orchestra,” said Crean, 38. “Our orchestra includes Dayton Philharmonic musicians, which makes a huge difference. Our singers really appreciate singing with high level professionals. I’ve directed choirs throughout my professional career, mainly in churches and occasionally at universities, but I never had one that had the capacity to do the kind of music that the Bach Society of Dayton does. This is the kind of group I’ve always wanted to lead for as long as I can remember. We’re off to a good start this season and I’m excited about where we’re going to go together.”

Crean has taught organ, harpsichord and theory at Wright State University since 2014. From 2013 to 2017 he was University Organist and Director of Chapel Music at Wittenberg University, and has held adjunct positions at Juilliard and The University of Iowa. He also serves as dean of the Dayton chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He also received his D.M.A. from The Juilliard School, where he was the 2014 recipient of the Richard F. French Doctoral Prize for outstanding research in a dissertation. He also holds degrees from Oberlin College/Conservatory and The University of Iowa.

ExploreHoliday shows to see in December

Since February 2017, he has been the midday host at Discover Classical WDPR, Dayton’s only full-time classical radio station. As music director, he also plans music for nearly 70 hours of weekly live broadcast and manages a library of nearly 10,000 recordings. An active church musician since age 15, he currently serves as organist and music director at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Dayton, where he directs the adult choir and leads worship from the 1989 C.B. Fisk Organ.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Looking ahead to future seasons, Crean isn’t anticipating major adjustments in programming but desires to take the troupe out of its traditional confines.

“Musically, I don’t envision making huge changes as far as repertoire or the kinds of concerts we do,” he said. “I would also like to see us attract some younger singers, particularly college age and singers in their 20s or 30s. But one thing I would love to see us do is to become more involved in other parts of the Dayton community. We are very much centered in the nexus of Beavercreek, Centerville and Kettering, and I would love to see us perform more, particularly in north and west Dayton. We could do some really excellent things.”

In particular, his goal of cultural and diversity expansion includes Trotwood.

“We’re looking at putting together a concert in Trotwood in an upcoming season, which would be a great thing for us to do,” he said. “It’s not only the right thing to do, I think it’s important for our long-term viability to attract audiences from a broader spectrum of the population and a wider geographical area. Our home base will probably remain at Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which is the perfect performance space with great acoustics and parking, but my hope is to do shorter, one-off concerts in different parts of the community.”

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Sunday’s concert will include festive holiday tunes featuring guests such as Kettering Children’s Choir Chorale and the Kettering Advent Ringers. R. Alan Kimbrough will provide accompaniment.

“The main challenge of the holiday concert is to do the music people want to hear but in newer, more novel ways,” said Crean. “We don’t want to do the same concert every single year so we try to find a balance between novelty and familiarity. It’ll be quite a variety of music.”

ExploreDayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera present holiday collaboration

HOW TO GO

What: Bach Society of Dayton presents “Sweet Sounds of the Holidays”

When: Sunday; 7:30 p.m.

Where: Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 3939 Stonebridge Rd., Kettering

Cost: $15-$25; Free admission for children 12 and under

Tickets or more info: 937-294-2224 or bachsocietyofdayton.org

About the Author