Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to join 'Bach in the Subways' Friday

Take the earbuds out, Baltimore commuters.

This Friday in the Johns Hopkins Metro station, a quartet of musicians from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a trio sonata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach for evening commuters.


“You cant fault Bach,” said oboist Michael Lisicky, who will be performing Friday. The composer’s music has a calming, inspirational effect — sure to be of benefit during the evening rush to get home, Lisicky said.

“If you just reach somebody for like four seconds and it makes them crack a smile, that’s cool.”


The event is part of a worldwide movement called “Bach in the Subways,” scheduled to coincide with the German composer’s 333rd birthday. From March 21 to 25, musicians from places as far flung as Helsinki, Finland, and Abu Dhabi will play selections by Bach.

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According to the group’s website, it began in 2010 when New York cellist Dale Henderson began performing Bach’s cello suites in the New York Subway. Henderson refused money and instead handed out postcards explaining that his purpose was to inspire a love of classical music in people.

In Baltimore, BSO musicians hope the event will also bring a boost to the beleaguered metro system.

“Some people don’t even know there’s a subway,” said Lisicky. “We need public transportation. Even if we draw attention to the subway itself,” the musicians will feel like they’ve accomplished something.

As for the acoustics underground, “I bet it’ll be a little boomy,” he said. But the goal, he said, is to reach the community outside the Meyerhoff, to “just to catch somebody off guard and just to change what they’re thinking maybe for a moment or two. That’s a very personal and wonderful thing as a performer.”

It’s not BSO’s first excursion outdoors. Last December, musicians performed a free holiday concert at Penn Station for evening commuters.

Friday’s performance will feature a violin, oboe, cello and bass playing Bach’s trio sonata. It will run from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. No donations will be accepted.

And don’t worry if you miss your train. Another one is on its way.