Novice and pro musicians embrace Bach in Philly subways

Hadas Kuznits
March 22, 2019 - 11:51 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Chloe Cooper from the Philadelphia High school for Creative and Performing Arts pulled out her flute at the 30th Street Station subway and for a half-hour, performing the iconic works of Bach.

"This is the first time I've ever done it," she admitted. "Classical music — everyone should be able to listen to it. There shouldn't be a barrier to be able to access it."

Cooper is one of dozens of Philadelphia musicians participating in Bach in the Subways, a celebration of what would have been Johann Sebastian Bach's 334th birthday on March 21.

"I love it because it's bringing classical music to commuters who might not be able to afford to go see an orchestra," she added.

Through Sunday, amateur and professional musicians will be playing Bach in various stations, an effort coordinated by James Pavlock.

"I'm a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and I love Bach," he said. "I play the piano, I play the pipe organ."

Hundreds of musicians around the world participate in Bach in the Subways, but Pavlock said Philly was not involved. 

"About four years ago, I happen to come on to the website and I noticed that there was no real presence in Philadelphia," he added.

Anyone can sign up on the website to play, the only requirements being that you play Bach for free in a public space or transit station.

SEPTA got on board with the project last year, Pavlock noted. "They have a coordinator who's now actively helping musicians and they've expanded the number of sites where musicians or buskers can play just for this particular event."

Passerby Cassio Harris from Abington was impressed by Cooper's flute. 

"Music is everyday for me," she enthused. "It's my passion, and when I see people just doing it out in public, it's very unique and inspiring to me."

"You never get enough of music and the arts," echoed Ethel Scott, who wished the famous composer a happy birthday. "And 300-and-something years later, we're still listening to your music."