The Bach Musical Foundation
The Bach Musical Society in Latvia was established in 1996. Then it looked like a response to a natural impulse. Still, the seeming spontaneity of founding of the organisation is actually an illusion, because the Bach Musical Society, in the same way as the International Bach Chamber Music Festival which followed in 2001, has really been the creation of Latvia's harpsichord and organ virtuoso, Miss Aina Kalnciema. She is the president of the society and the artistic director of the festival, and she felt the need to pay a tribute to Bach through these two means of conveyance both because of her great personal interest in the composer and because of her genuine concern about the contemporary society. "Bach's music is particularly dear to me," she says. "I perceive it as a way of healing the soul, it really is musical therapy. The body cleanses itself, the spirit achieves harmony. I think that Bach's music is a kind of alternative medicine, and his compositions certainly have psycho-therapeutic effect. It may be that there are people who don't even know that Bach is treating them, but it happens anyway. People get better." The spiritual force of Bach's music brought together the Latvian intelligentsia back in the days when the Bach Musical Society was in its infancy. People of various professions, including professional musicians and music lovers, came together along with distinguished teachers, physicians, artists and other creative people.
The society met in the heart of the Old Town of Rīga, at the historical Reutern's House. Special evenings were dedicated to playing and singing Bach's quiet and inspirational chamber music. Along with music, the readings delivered by the members of the society on Bach and music in general - its effect on science, on the various arts, on the human body and mind, on creativity and innovation. Among those who came to tell a story and to present examples of meditation at the Bach Musical Society was Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who later became President of the Republic of Latvia.
Aina Kalnciema has done her very best with the Bach Musical Society, and she has brought it up to the international level. Preparing for its centennial celebration, an organisation in Leipzig, Germany, that is called the "Neue Bachgesellschaft", started to collect information about Bach-related organisations throughout the world. It came across t he Bach Musical Society in Latvia, and today the Latvian society is a full-fledged participant in the global network of Bach-related organisations.The organisation which once held quiet evenings of conversation, with music as means of communication and illustration, turned into a more ambitious project in 2001. The International Bach Chamber Music Festival was born, and the Bach Musical Society is the main arranger of the event, as well as the generator of creative artistic ideas for it.