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Orcas Currents is a series of public lectures, seminars, and workshops intended to reach wide audiences of interested islanders. It appeals to the diverse sectors of the community wanting to hear what local, regional, national, and international authorities have to say about science, technology, and their impacts on human culture. These events are free and open to all.


Roger Sherman on “Bach by the Numbers: Symbols and Puzzles”

Bach by the Numbers

A Lecture by Roger Sherman
Artistic Director Emeritus, Orcas Choral Society

Sunday, November 4, at 2:00 p.m.
in Orcas Island Community Church

There is much more to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach than what we hear when it is played. For over a century, music theorists have tried to discover the ways in which Bach included numerical symbolism in his compositions. They are clearly full of numeric content, but was this intentional? And if so, what did it mean?

In this presentation, Roger Sherman will explore three specific topics. The first is the hidden symbols in the title page of an important work, which may solve one of the most enduring controversies in Bach’s keyboard music. Another topic is a solution to the puzzle called Canon 13, which Bach holds in his hand in his famous portrait. Finally, Roger will discuss Bach’s use of proportional parallelism to create “eternal music” in his works and collections.

Roger Sherman is a resident of Orcas Island who has had a life-long interest in the music of J. S. Bach. He served as Artistic Director of the Orcas Choral Society and as Associate Organist of Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. He has given organ concerts in settings around the world, many of them featuring Bach’s music. As President of The Gothic Catalog, a collection of recordings specializing in organ and choral music, he has been the producer and recording and mastering engineer for over 300 works. And for the past 25 years, he has hosted the popular radio program “The Organ Loft” on KING-FM radio in Seattle. In addition to his musical activities, Roger pursued a career in computer technology with Boeing Computer Services and Microsoft, where he served as the company’s first Director of Testing.

Cosponsored by:
Janet Alderton
Joe Cohen and Martha Farish
Carl de Boer





Following an extremely successful third year of Orcas Currents lectures in 2017, we are looking forward to an equally strong and enlightening series of events this year. Those lecturers included the nationally renowned Hedrick Smith, as well as one of our own local authorities, Jonathan White.

This year, the Orcas Currents Steering Committee has been working diligently to bring you the best lecturers on science, technology, and culture we can find and afford to bring to Orcas Island. Our special focus has been on broadening our offerings into the cultural arena implied by our mission statement.


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Summer brings millions of migratory seabirds, fish, and marine mammals to the San Juan Islands, where hundreds of miles of tightly folded shorelines and nutrient-rich waters foster a dense soup of algae and microscopic crustaceans.

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