History of Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society

BDDS Season Archives | Big Bang Awards

One spring day in 1992, Stephanie Jutt and Jeffrey Sykes asked each other over lunch, “What are you doing this summer?” “Not enough playing,” they both agreed. So they set about creating a new chamber music series in Madison. They wanted to play great music with great players. They wanted music hot off the press mixed with the classics. A touch of theater. Artistic challenge. An engaged audience. Fun.

They also knew the name they wanted for their festival….

Some years ago Stephanie had played in a jazz and classical music series in Half Moon Bay, California, that had been christened the “Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society” after audience members on one memorable evening were inspired to dance on the beach to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and set off fireworks after the performance. With a blessing from California, Stephanie and Jeffrey borrowed the name and determined to recreate the spirit of spontaneous fun and the incredible music that made you want to dance.

Stephanie and Jeffrey then wooed four musician friends with their vision (and with margaritas, frozen custard, and lunches at their favorite restaurant), and all agreed to perform for free. The Madison Civic Center provided performance space and publicity for two free concerts. And crowds turned out for their first experience of BDDS’s “serious fun.” Each night more than 200 people packed the room, and dozens more stood outside the doors listening in. Stephanie and Jeffrey placed an open cello case near the exit and made a plea for spare change. That “spare change” added up to more than $1,500 on those hot summer evenings. With that nest egg and with help from a growing group of fans, they have made their artistic vision a reality.

BDDS is now in its third decade. It has become abundantly clear that our vision has been enhanced by those who have invested their wisdom and talent in extraordinary measures. In 2001 we inaugurated our Big Bang award to honor such people. We thank those whose spirits have not only sustained ours but have expanded our gratitude to bursting.

Big Bang Awards:

  • 2019: Norma Sober
  • 2018: Ellen White & Eric Sutter
  • 2017: Wiley & Virginia Sykes
  • 2016: Debi Morton & Michael Dearing
  • Anne T. Wadsack
  • John Beutel
  • 2015: Kris Knight
  • 2014: Dick Ainsworth
  • 2013: Carla Love
  • 2012: Distillery Design
  • 2011: Effi Casey
  • 2010: Anne Stoelting
  • 2009: Tom & Jan Terry, Hathaway Dilba, David Wells
  • 2008: John Wiley
  • 2007: Lynne Eich
  • 2006: Pat Alea
  • 2005: James Crow
  • 2004: Toni Sikes and Bill Kraus
  • 2003: Susan Jacobs Lockhart
  • 2002: Lindsay, Stone & Briggs
  • 2001: Fan Taylor

Violinist Paran Amirinazari, an avid chamber musician, is a founding member and artistic drector of the Willy Street Chamber Players. She is a former member of the Hunt String Quartet and has recently earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, cellist TRACE JOHNSON received his Bachelor of Music in cello performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2012 and was recently awarded his Master of Music degree at the Lynn Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida. As the first place winner in the conservatory's annual concerto competition, he performed the Brahms Double Concerto with the Lynn Philharmonia in 2014. Later that fall, he won first prize in the 2014 Lyric Chamber Society of New York's chamber competition, and in 2016 he performed in a New York debut concert with fellow Lynn Conservatory musicians at the Kosciuszko Foundation. For the past two summers, Mr. Johnson has appeared in both orchestral and chamber ensembles as a fellow with the Atlantic Music Festival. He has also participated in other summer festivals including the Meadowmount School of Music, Orford Centre d'Arts, and Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. Mr. Johnson is currently working in a variety of performing ensembles in South Florida and is a section cellist with the Symphony of the Americas in Ft. Lauderdale. Mr. Johnson is a member of the BDDS Dynamite Factory, a program featuring young artists. (Website)

Bass-Baritone TIMOTHY JONES has performed in opera houses and with symphony orchestras in the U.S., Ecuador, Mexico, and the Czech Republic. He has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, and the Jacksonville Symphony. In opera houses he has performed leading roles in The Marriage of Figaro, Carmen, Die Zauberflöte, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, La Bohème, Falstaff, Macbeth, and La Traviata. He has been a frequent guest with the Victoria Bach Festival, New Texas Festival, Round Top Music Festival, Ars Lyrica Houston, Cactus Pear Music Festival, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. As a committed performer of contemporary music, Mr. Jones has commissioned and premiered many compositions by leading composers of our time. He lives in Houston, where he serves on the faculty of the University of Houston. (Website)