Gail Griffin

Kiristina Servant, via Wikimedia commons

James Turner, who retires as artistic director of the Kalamazoo Bach Festival at the end of the season, will lead his 20th 'BachFest Christmas!' on Sunday. He spoke with Cara Lieurance about the music he has planned, and looks back on his time with the organization. Included in the conversation are chorister Gail Griffin, who joined the choir at the same time as Turner, and Arcato Chamber Ensemble conductor Andrew Koehler.


John Vachon / Library of Congress

Author and professor Gail Griffin can remember her tenth birthday- spent catching a baseball game on a summer night - like it was yesterday:

"A rectangle of night sky opens ahead. Brilliant banks of lights against the black. The low crowd hum, rising, like a sea sound. Then acres of green seats and then, below it all, the blazing diamond, emerald they should call it, nothing has ever been so green.

Left field, Maxwell. Right, Colavito, the outrageous Cleveland trade, who points his bat at pitchers like a gun.

Humidity haloes the lights. Men yelp HOTdogs, HOTdogs, PROgram. I am transfixed, dizzied by the vastness. My stomach lurches like on the Ferris wheel at the State Fair when it surges up and I can almost see Canada. How can an entire world fit inside a building? It’s a gleaming secret, a hidden kingdom, an alternate planet shining at the core. Secret garden, emerald city, wonderland. The night breeze licks my skin. I might be dreaming."

- From "Night, Briggs Stadium, 1960."