In 2011, Colorado State University hosted a National Collegiate Choral Organization’s biennial conference in Fort Collins.

Helmuth Rilling (l) and James Kim

This was a gathering of nearly 500 collegiate choral directors from across the country participating in performances, lectures, reading sessions, and featuring two prominent headliners during the entire conference. The two headliners were Alice Parker and Helmuth Rilling. During the conference, CSU Chamber Choir was featured as the main chorus to be rehearsed and conducted by Helmuth Rilling, a renowned German Bach interpreter. Obviously, we were doing an all-Bach program.    

This was a special time for me since my love for Bach continued ever since I left Germany, and that I was able to spend much private time with one of my conducting mentors whom I had a pleasure of learning from when I lived in Stuttgart, Germany in late 1990’s. For those who don’t know Rilling intimately, he is the founder of the Oregon Bach Festival (1970) and Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (1981). He also founded his own groups to perform Bach’s music; the Gächinger Kantorei (1954) and the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart (1965), two local groups for his hometown, Stuttgart.

Following his model, I wanted to found a group similar to his Gächinger Kantorei and the Bach-Collegium for Colorado. So, during his visit to Colorado in 2011, I had conversations and sought his advice to execute what I have been contemplating since I moved to Colorado 2004. I needed mostly encouragement, and he gave me plenty! Soon after, Colorado Bach Ensemble (CBE) was founded and the following summer was our inaugural season with the B Minor Mass.

In this country, there are few other professional organizations that perform Bach almost as exclusively as we do, but we are very unique to include as many local musicians as we possibly can.

My goal has been to instill a culture in this state among the patrons AND the musicians to appreciate the beauty and the magnificence of this music. I’ve run into SO many professional musicians who want to perform Bach more often and with the best musicians available within the state. We have our wonderful Colorado Symphony, Opera Colorado, and other regional groups performing mostly the mainstream symphonic and opera works. I firmly believe there is a much need for a group such as ours performing this chamber music in a setting in which was meant to be performed. We have a tall task bringing such great works of Johann Sebastian Bach with the artistry this music requires for.

Some of the core members for this season include Margaret Gutierrez, Monica Hanulik, and Caleb Hudson. Ms. Gutierrez is an active freelancer in Denver metro area with additional teaching responsibilities at CU-Boulder and UNC. Prior to moving to Colorado, she had multiple performances with the Washington Bach Consort in D.C. area. She brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for Bach and will be the Concertmaster for the Colorado Bach Ensemble this season. Monica Hanulik is a former Colorado Symphony member who now plays as a freelance oboist. She is one of the few players who own an old Baroque oboe called oboe d’amore and is an experienced player having played Bach at the renowned Carmel Bach Festival. Our latest addition to our roster is our trumpet player, Caleb Hudson, the lead trumpet of the internationally-recognized Canadian Brass. He will be leading the trumpet section in our B minor Mass production next May.

I hope you join our journey and continue for a long haul.

Get your tickets now for the 2017-2018 Season!