Bach: Solo Cello Suites


To preserve and enhance the
transformational power of
great music in the lives
of others.

The music of J.S. Bach has been revered for 300 years for its technical command, artistic beauty and intellectual depth.  Bach’s music serves as a conduit between the physical and the metaphysical and will continue to influence generations far into the future.  I have focused my energies on the solo cello suites.  These suites, with their complex, perfectly balanced fusion of rhythm, melody, harmony, bass and counterpoint matches exactly with my own sense of spiritual balance.  Performing these masterpieces live has shown me the powerful trifecta of composer, performer and listener–that when all three are present, the full power of the music comes alive.  Recordings I have made in the last few years document my sojourn with this remarkable music, but there is more work to be done and, of course, there are expenses.  Please consider helping me fund this work so we can, together, enrich the cultural landscape of our extraordinarily beautiful Napa Valley.


Bach: Solo Cello Suites

Jeffrey McFarland-Johnson

In 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 as a “message in a bottle” into the deep, eternal ocean of space. Among items contained in this greeting to intelligent alien life is a gold LP record with 31 recorded examples of mankind’s cultural heritage. The first music track on this album is J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.2 in F. Two other tracks of Bach’s music are on the album, along with Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode and Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps. However, it is the music J.S. Bach which is considered by NASA, the highest scientific intellectual agency of its time, to be the premier form of art in sound yet conceived by humanity. This music, now over 300 years old, is eternal; it will continue to influence generations into the distant future.

We know that music is a unique art form that serves as a conduit between the physical and the metaphysical. As an interpreter of Bach’s works, I cannot put my finger on the secret of what drives his music so directly into our spiritual unconscious, but Bach’s complex, perfectly balanced fusion of rhythm, melody, harmony, bass and counterpoint matches exactly with our own sense of spiritual balance. It is as though we are born with “Bach receptors” –ready to receive and incorporate his ethereal music.

When I retired from 22 years of teaching, I was free to pursue any number of goals; I soon focused on internalizing and performing the Bach solo cello suites. I took on the mantle of this responsibility in my own effort to support the continuation of mankind’s most important invention: civilization.

My journey has taken this music, in live performance, into the hearts and minds of many hundreds of people from all walks of life. I love seeing listeners’ deep satisfaction in the moment, of course, but the key outcome I’ve witnessed is listeners’ increased peace of mind. Experiencing the cello suites performed live refreshes our desire to live, to move forward at the speed of life and to help others in the process. I have discovered that this music, internalized within me, played live to the public is far more impressive than the same music played by even the greatest of cellists, but emanating from a speaker cone or an iPhone.

What is missing in recordings? I believe it is witnessing the performer manipulate the instrument in real time as the music simultaneously projects out from the player’s ceremonial physical activity. This combination of physical motion and resulting sound projection is the most effective way to speak directly to the heart of the listener. When the trifecta of Composer – Performer – Listener is fused perfectly in live performance, the effects of this music are fully realized and experienced.

As I continue my current journey of performing these suites live, I have begun documenting my sojourn with recordings and video casts to reach a larger audience. To present live performances and to document them, of course, requires funding and the support of people who believe in the power of Bach’s music presented live with purpose. For all who of you who hear this music, please accept it fully as my gift. If you should be able to donate, your support will help me perpetuate and record this musical outreach to a world currently starving for peace and camaraderie.

Musically yours,

Jeffrey McFarland-Johnson
Johnsong Music
P.O. Box 3646
Napa, CA  94558