Bach Ascending returns with concert series season opener ‘The Beatles and Bach with Laura Ball and Friends’

Bach Ascending, the Hostess City’s concert series that centers on German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, is returning on Thurs., Oct. 13 with “The Beatles and Bach with Laura Ball and Friends,” a special Charleston musical mashup tradition promised to take audiences on a journey through the ages.

According to Ball, who is a collaborative pianist, professional singer, composer, and arts producer based in Charleston, she has been performing “The Beatles and Bach” for several years and couldn’t jump fast enough at the opportunity to bring the show to Savannah.

“This show has been a special Charleston tradition for many years and it’s always been a hit,” Ball said. “Every year we try to do a different theme but we always bring some musical nerdiness to the Beatles…different kinds of orchestrations of Beatles tunes using Bach instruments and we’ve given ourselves some musical rock n’ roll freedom to interpret the Bach tunes. There are some mashups and audience sing-a-longs and all kinds of things we just kind of interpolate between a few hundred years and an ocean or so.”

For this year’s theme, Ball explained that they will be performing some of the Bach sinfonia and six different period instruments will be involved including clarinet and bass clarinet, mandolin, classical guitar, upright bass, and piano. There will be no electric guitars used on stage.

“This time what we did was we picked some of the Bach sinfonia, which are three part inventions (three different dueling voices), and we paired up some of these different sinfonias that music students practice all the time but your typical audience might not hear those at your average Bach concert and then we dubtailed them with Beatles tunes but with no electric guitars. It’ll be a nice acoustic feel.”

Although the themes may change, Ball noted that set Beatles songs are typically performed at every show and audience participation is always encouraged.

“We try to hit different Beatles tunes and we’ve got some of our classic mashups that everyone really loves that we try to keep in there no matter what - ’Blackbird,’ ‘Dear Prudence,’ and Bach songs that would be earworms for our audience,” she said. “We encourage a lot of audience participation and people to sing along….we love to banter with the audience.”

In addition to enjoying audience participation, Ball says there is another aspect to the show that she finds incredibly special.

“What I love about our performance is that it’s got a real intimate quality, sort of taking the classical tradition of chamber music where you would have people in one room and the musicians right up front, so it’s a real close knit vibe.”

Joining Ball on stage are multi-instrumentalist John Holenko, clarinet player Philip Lipton, and bassist John Kennedy.

“John and I do the arranging for the show and I play piano and perform vocals and John also performs vocals and all of his instruments as well,” Ball said. “It’s truly an ensemble and we hope people are clapping and laughing and singing their heads off! I mean, where else will you get to do a Bach and Beatles sing-a-long? It’s not everyday that you sing along to Bach with everybody.”

“The Beatles and Bach with Laura Ball and Friends” will kick off at 7:30 p.m on Thurs., Oct 13 at the historic Lutheran Church of the Ascension located at 120 Bull St. in Wright Square. The concert is free of charge but reservations are recommended and can be found on their website at

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