Donor Testimonials

Neil Graham, a self-proclaimed, “wild about Bach” subscriber and donor, has been a J.S. Bach enthusiast for over 40 years. His first memory of Bach goes back to being a young teenager and learning to play the piano. He wasn’t much of a fan of lessons at the time, but his music teacher introduced him to J.S. Bach and the Two-Part Inventions, and Graham quickly took a liking.

Graham’s fondness for Bach continued but it wasn’t until he heard Glen Gould’s performance of The Well-Tempered Clavier (Books 1 and 2) and the Goldberg Variations that he realized how great and transformative Bach’s music can be.

Graham can’t remember exactly when he attended a performance of the Washington Bach Consort or when he first saw J. Reilly Lewis, but as an Arlington native, he does remember the founding of the Consort in 1977, Reilly’s enormous talent and charisma, and his delight in seeing Senator Rockefeller in the audience when he attended concerts.

“The Washington Bach Consort is a unique institution in the DC area,” says Graham. He describes the Consort as consistently inspirational, offering uncompromising quality and a deeply informed commitment to Bach’s work and legacy.

Reilly was inspiring to many, including Graham, who found him to be not only a musical genius but a great public spokesman and ambassador for Bach and the transformative power of music.

“It was always reassuring to know that there was someone in the DC community like Reilly, with his great musical knowledge, taste, and ability, who was always working to bring first-class performances of Bach and the Baroque period to local audiences,” recalls Graham.

“It would be a real loss to see an organization like Washington Bach Consort disappear from the cultural scene in the DC area,” Graham thought as he was sketching out his estate plans in 2016. This thought motivated him to think about the legacy of the Consort and what he could do to help preserve it. It was then he decided to include the Bach Consort in his will.

When talking about his giving, Graham describes himself as “just a small fry.” But when Reilly passed “it made me more determined to increase my annual giving and also to ensure that the Consort could continue and thrive in the future through a planned gift.”

Graham hopes that his bequest will help to carry on the great work of the Consort, including the educational programs that benefit the DC Public Schools. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the Consort’s programs in the DC schools and would very much like to see the Consort expand in the region. As a teenager, he would have been thrilled if the Bach Consort had come to his high school in Virginia.

Forever a Bach enthusiast, he has recently bought a digital piano and is learning to play Bach all over again.

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As a longtime and experienced fundraiser, Sally Wells understands how the Washington Bach Consort, an organization that she cares so deeply about, depends on donations.

Sally wanted to make a gift that would have a lasting impact on the Bach Consort, so she took the simple steps of including the Consort in her will. Like Sally, when you include the Consort in your will or other estate plan, you become a member of the 1685 Society, a group of individuals with dedication and foresight in preserving the artistic and educational goals of the Consort.

“I’ve always held an appreciation for choral and instrumental music,” says Sally. As a young adult while living in New York, she remembered her fabulous memories of attending J.S. Bach Cantatas around Christmas at a Lutheran church on the West Side that held free concerts. Her interest piqued over the years and as a long-time donor to the Bach Consort, it seemed only befitting to leave the organization a bequest in her will.

“I had returned to Washington, DC after spending two years living in Guatemala working for the Peace Corps and had recently taken a fundraising position at WETA public television and FM radio. I was asked by a friend for advice on fundraising for the newly founded Washington Bach Consort. I met the founder and conductor, J. Reilly Lewis, and what began as simple advice, developed into admiration and eventually led to me serving on the Board for six years.”

Some of Sally’s most memorable times with Consort are attending performances at Dahlgren Chapel on the Georgetown University campus. She recalled how there was not enough seating, so patrons had to sit on the floor and listen to the music being played on ancient instruments which transformed the sound beautifully. The tranquil space in combination with everyone so close provided the performances with a sense of intimacy that made the performances very moving.

Programs like the free downtown concerts during the winter months and the public school initiatives that introduce early music to students are a few of Sally’s favorite examples of how the Consort strives to create an appreciation for Bach music throughout the community.

“A gift like a bequest is an excellent choice for a charitable donation because it doesn’t affect your current income. In this day and age when healthcare is so uncertain, many people are concerned about taking care of themselves so they can’t give as much now as they could later.

I happily support the Consort with annual gifts and am excited to be able to include them as a beneficiary of my will. Think about what a difference several bequests could make for the Consort’s future!”

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