A Conversation With Will Kiel

This weekend, local guitarist Will Kiel, and Kiel Music instructor, will open the 41st Annual Sonora Bach Festival with a solo performance at the Youth Finalist's Concert Sunday, October 8th, 3:00 pm in Columbia, CA.  

We recently spoke to Will about his upcoming performance:

Q: What will it be like for you to perform again in your hometown after living and attending music school in San Francisco?

A: I’m sure that it will be fantastic. Sonora is unique because even though it is a small town, the musical population is very dense. Not only is the musical community large, but it’s also very supportive of all varieties of music--classical included. Sonora is very receptive to new musical ideas, and I look forward to sharing what I learned while away in San Francisco.

Q: For you, why is the music of J.S. Bach still relevant over two and a half centuries after his death?

A: The music of Bach will always be relevant, because the musical ideas that he used, and the idioms that he created are still being explored today in many musical forms. You can see the influence of J.S. Bach in everything from modern classical music to modern pop.  Many of the chord progressions, counterpoint, rhythmic devices, and melodic movement we enjoy in various genres are influenced by Bach.

Q: In addition to works by Bach, you will be playing pieces that reach beyond the Baroque era western classical music. How did this program come about?

A: In addition to the works of J.S. Bach, I’ll also be playing tunes from various Brazilian composers. But don’t worry, this is the Bach festival after all and Brazilian musical forms from choro to bossa nova are all heavily influenced by the works of Bach and all of baroque music. The shape of the musical lines in Brazilian choro reference those in baroque music. The harmonic language too, is very similar.

Q: How do you prepare to play in front of a large audience? Do you have any special pre-performance traditions?

A: One helpful trick I've learned over the years is to find people that make you nervous, and offer to play for them in the weeks leading up to a performance--the more nerves that you can purge from your body and mind before showtime, the better. Be excited about being uncomfortable. Those nerves, and that discomfort, are actually the result of energy and excitement which are essential to fuel a live musical performance.

Q: You are not just a performer, but a music instructor as well. What advice can you offer the young musicians performing with you this weekend?

A: The best advice that I can give is to approach this performance as an opportunity to share what you have been working on and to be excited about the chance for your family and friends to see how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve progressed. This will be a performance to remember for all of us.

At the Sonora Bach Festival’s Youth Concert, Will Kiel will perform selections by J.S. Bach as well as Baroque-inspired works from around the world. Hear him this Sunday, October 8th, 3:00 pm at the Church of the 49ers in Columbia, CA. 

Tickets can be purchased locally at the Mountain Bookshop or on the Sonora Bach Festival's website. Tickets are $5 for adults, and free admission for audience members under 18. 

(Kiel Music 2017)