Larry Bach Farewell Concert Recap

April 14, 2022

On April 5, North Central celebrated Professor Larry Bach’s retirement after 41 years of teaching with a farewell concert consisting of songs performed by chorale, women’s choir, 130 alumni and a 30-piece orchestra.

Larry Bach, M.M, has taught fine arts students at North Central for the past 41 years. He served as the chair of the music department and later the Dean of the College of Fine Arts (COFA), along with two years of coaching golf and tennis for NCU Athletics.

When Bach began teaching at NCU in 1981, he worked with the Concert Chorale, the only choral ensemble at the time. Soon after, he established Festival Choir (both men and women) and Women’s Choir. During his time at North Central, Bach also established nine different majors and grew the fine arts program to over 150 students. He led multiple international tours with Chorale and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City three times.

Other accomplishments of Bach include securing funding for the state-of-the-art McPherson Recording Studio and Liechty Computer Lab in the 2000s, establishing the College of Fine Arts Endowment (which has since grown to $700,000), receiving Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for Assemblies of God Colleges and Universities in 2005 and initiating the first Worship Live recording with original songs.

North Central decided to honor Bach by hosting a farewell concert before his retirement. The well-attended concert took place in Lindquist Sanctuary, with the university providing optional valet parking for guests. At the start of the program, President Scott Hagan surprised Bach with a trip to Melbourne to go see the Australian Open next January. Bach is an avid tennis fan, and he graciously thanked the president for the gift.

The opening piece to the concert was the premiere of “Te Deum,” composed by Michael John Trotta. Bach was part of a consortium with eight other choirs nationwide that commissioned the composition of the traditional Christian hymn.

Another highlight from the concert was chorale singing a song from each decade of Larry Bach’s residence at North Central. “Honor and Glory” represented the 1980’s, “Jeremiah’s Fire” was a multicultural piece from the 1990’s, “There Is No Rose” was performed at Carnegie Hall in 2006 and chorale performed “Baba Yetu,” the Lord’s Prayer sung in Swahili, in December 2021 for Songs of the Season. The program concluded with alumni chorale joining back in to sing the six-movement “Gospel Mass.”

After the show, hors d’oeuvres and desserts were served to guests in the upper and lower atriums. Kebabs, meat and cheese platters, macaroons and cheesecake bites were just some of the options concert-goers could choose from.

Current students and alumni mingled during the after party, reconnecting and celebrating Larry Bach’s career and impact on North Central. Alum Dana Cretilli (‘18), a music business major, said her takeaways from studying under Bach were, “Be humble, make sure you know your stuff, and learn your music.” She commented on Bach’s ability to teach subjects he really loved. “It’s been an honor to be a student under him.”

Sarah Graham, a sophomore majoring in music education, is a current student in Chorale and has taken several classes with Bach. “He’s just so knowledgeable…he’s the best conductor I’ve ever seen. His movements are just so dynamic you always know when to sing and when not to sing.”

Graham was thankful for the opportunity Bach gave his conducting students. For their final this semester, students conducted a live four-piece string quartet. Bach said NCU was one of the only schools to provide that opportunity in an undergraduate program. When asked about the lasting impact of Bach, Graham recounted her experience auditioning for the fine arts program while still in high school. “He told my mom that I was one of the best freshmen he heard all year…and he will tell you straight if you’re good or not. To get that kind of compliment from Larry means volumes.”

The long-time professor of fine arts takes a bow.