About Bach with a Beat

The "Bach with a Beat" Singers, in The Villages, Florida, was formed to primarily perform Bach's music, sung in Ward Swingle's uniquely fashioned interplay of SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass) parts.  Although, in the interest of providing their audience with an interesting "change of pace", the group additionally sings other complementary musical genres.

The original "Swingle Singers" were a vocal group formed in 1962 in Paris, France, by Ward Swingle.  Christiane Legrand, the sister of composer Michel Legrand, was the group's lead soprano through 1972.  In 1973, the original French group disbanded and Ward Swingle moved to London and recruited all new members who debuted as "Swingle II".

Since the London group's incarnation, the group has never disbanded. As individual members have left the group, the remaining members have held auditions for replacements.  Until 2011, the group consisted of eight voices--two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses--and typically recorded with only a double bass and drums as accompaniment. 

The group began as session singers mainly doing background vocals for singers such as Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf, and jazz vocals for Michel Legrand. The eight session singers sang through Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier as a sight-reading exercise and found the music to have a natural swing. They recorded their first album Jazz Sébastien Bach as a present for friends and relatives. Many radio stations picked it up and this led to the group recording more albums and winning a total of five Grammy Awards.

About Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach(21 March 1685, – 28 July 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque Period. He enriched many established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organization, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach wrote much music, which was revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty. Many of his works are such classics they remain popular even today, such as the Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, the Well-Tempered Clavier, and his passions, cantatas, partitas, and organ works.  Bach was a genius keyboardist and brilliant composer who brought baroque music to its culmination, writing music for nearly every type of musical form. His legacy enriches and inspires music used in every entertainment media we experience today, be it movies, television, radio or live theatre. Bach is indisputably the greatest Baroque composer ever.  

Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenachinto a very musical family; his father, Johann Ambrosius Bach was the director of the town's musicians, and all of his uncles were professional musicians. His father taught him to play violin and harpsichord, and his brother,  Johann Christoph Bach taught him the clavichord, and exposed him to much contemporary music. Bach also sang, and he went to the St Michael's School in Luneburg, because of his skill in voice. After graduating, he held several musical posts across Germany; he served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Kothen, Cantor of Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to August III. Bach's health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 25 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia.

Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognized as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.