Alfred University News

MostArts to host musician Dennis James, "High Tea and Schickele"

Alfred University’s 2024 MostArts Festival will feature a performance by musician Dennis James of Addison, NY, renowned in the world of classical music for his presentations of the works of composer Peter Schickele, inventor of the fictional 18th-century composer P.D.Q. Bach.

Schickele’s P.D.Q. Bach was the alleged son of Johann Sebastian Bach, who really did sire approximately 20 children in his Baroque life. Schickele built a musical career around his fictional creation, releasing farcical works such as The Abduction of Figaro in 1984 and The Short-Tempered Clavier and other Dysfunctional Works for the Keyboard in 1995, the latter a joke on J. S. Bach’s own Well-Tempered Clavier.

“P.D.Q. is the only dead composer from whom one can still commission works,” Schickele said.

Schickele died earlier this year, after seeing his compositions celebrated by James. “Dennis James knows more funny stuff that actually happened in music history than I ever ‘discovered’ about P.D.Q. Bach,” Schickele said in 1988 from his home in Ann Arbor.

James will entertain MostArts music lovers with his performance “P.D.Q. Bach -- Peter & Me” Thursday, July 18, at 3 pm in the Union University Church, 5 Church St. in the Village of Alfred. His performance will feature Schickele’s quirky compositions, humor, and first-hand stories about his various encounters and collaborations with the late composer.

The event is free and open to the public.

James has been featured on several of Schickele’s albums including The Short-Tempered Clavier, which includes the ever-popular “Little Pickle Book” for theater organ and “dill piccolos.” He has maintained a renowned professional career in music featuring studio and film-music recording, instrument preservation, plus educational and specialized historical research activities.

A dedicated and imaginative devotee of music history and authentic performance practices, James composes, arranges and transcribes music, all the while embracing stylistic changes plus setting new cultural fashion trends. His popular “Música Curiosa Informances” have been developed in recent years for touring presentations throughout New York State.