Bach Bash fundraiser in Tampa celebrates the birthday of the Johann Sebastian Bach

Ryan Hebert is one of five organists performing Bach’s music at 4 p.m. on March 31 at Hyde Park United Methodist Church.
Published March 21
Updated March 21

TAMPA — Ryan Hebert said he didn’t choose to play the pipe organ; it chose him. He remembers being drawn to the instrument as a child in church.

“It’s very difficult to play, and it’s very complicated, and it takes so many years of mastery, so it’s one of those instruments that, it kind of finds you,’’ he said.

Hebert, 44, an associate professor of music at the University of Tampa and associate organist at St. John’s Episcopal Church, is one of five musicians performing on the big pipe organ at Hyde Park United Methodist Church at 4 p.m. on March 31 for the annual Bach Bash, a fundraiser that celebrates the birthday of the 18th century composer. Hebert will be performing Bach’s transcription of the Vivaldi Concerto in a-minor BMV 593.

Michael Daugherty, director of music at Hyde Park Methodist and organizer of the event, has arranged a sampling of Bach in varied forms. Also appearing will be the Tampa Oratorio Singers, who will perform the first movement of Magnificat BWV 243a. The Serata Men’s Choir from the Lumina Youth Choirs will perform Der Herr segne euch from the Wedding Cantata BWV 196 and Bist du bei mir BWV 508. And a cello quartet will play Bach’s Chaconne BWV 1004.

This marks the 20th year of the event in Tampa. Admission is free but donations are requested. The money goes to the Margaret Smith McAlister Scholarship Fund of the Tampa Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

"This has been a movement in the States for 40 years, probably, that the people kind of celebrate Bach's birthday,'' said Daugherty, 48.

Hebert said it's thrilling to play a massive pipe organ in church, accompanying the choir and congregation.

"The thing that really gets most organists charged up is accompanying a hymn. That's historically where the organ kind of comes from. It's a singing instrument. It has wind that goes to a pipe, and the human voice is kind of the same thing,'' he said. "I think the organ imitates the human voice in so many ways.''

Contact Philip Morgan at or (813) 226-3435.


Hyde Park United Methodist Church, 500 W Platt St., will host the Bach Birthday Bash at 4 p.m. on March 31. The event will feature musical performances, cake and refreshments. Admission is free, but donations are requested for a scholarship fund for promising organ students