Bringing hope, inspiration & laughter through music & stories to war-torn areas & prison populations.
Founded in 2004, Bach With Verse (BWV), a non-profit organization, brings hope, inspiration and laughter to underserved and disadvantaged communities by presenting free live musical performances. In fulfillment of this mission, BWV presents live concerts, masterclasses and workshops to children and adults throughout the world in schools, prisons, orphanages, refugee camps, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, youth facilities and music schools. Performances are crafted with a unique blend of classical music and humorous stories in order to be easily accessible to diverse audiences. BWV utilizes the unique talents and performance experience of Richard “Dobbs” Hartshorne, a renowned double bass virtuoso, composer and storyteller. It is the mission of Bach With Verse to give the experience of live music to as many people as possible, but particularly to those who would not be able to have it without support from generous donors.
About Richard “Dobbs” Hartshorne
Solo Double Bassist “Dobbs” (real name Richard Hartshorne b. 1943) has been playing only in places where there otherwise would not be music since 2004. Places like prisons in the US and Uganda, refugee camps and UN schools in Palestine, drug rehab centers in the US and Afghanistan, drop-in centers for street children in Uganda, remote villages in Bolivia, centers for abused women and homes for blind children in Iraq. “I go wherever I feel the need is the greatest” says Dobbs, “because having an intense musical experience gives people in extreme circumstances a sense of being connected to the world, of not being forgotten. That feeling of how music can affect us stays with them for the rest of their lives.”
History of BWV
Bach Suites & Comedic Musical Stories
The music of Bach has a universal appeal with its own story that is intimate and approachable. Dobbs began his lifelong journey of transcribing the beloved Six Solo Cellos Suites by J.S. Bach on the much larger double bass in 1967. Extensive experimentation with scordatura (non-standard) tunings of the bass allowed him to achieve the ringing, free (open-string) chords not possible on the standard bass. In 2002, Dobbs’ debut performance in Dublin, Ireland of all Six Cello Suites inspired the Irish poet Macdara Woods to write The Cello Suites, a series of six poems to accompany each Suite. In 1984, Dobbs began composing works for solo bass/narrator which are sometimes embellished with props, sound effects and slides. These One Man Show works combine Dobbs’ virtuosity on the double bass with his gift for storytelling, fashioning hilarious and touching musical tales. As a part of the Playing For Peace tours, which began in 1992, Dobbs translated his musical stories into numerous languages to be accessible to audiences around the world. New comedic stories continue to be written, inspired by tales from around the world.
One Man Show Outreach
Combining his passions, Dobbs developed his One Man Show program to incorporate one of Bach's Solo Cello Suites and two to three comedic musical stories, which are easily accessible to a wide-range of audiences. A series of dances, the pace of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites allows listeners time to reflect and enjoy the magnificent power and resonance of the double bass. For people who may not have heard classical music in their life, the calming effect is dramatic and being followed by laughter warms and inspires the spirit in unexpected ways. The One Man Show is an excellent access point to introduce classical music to first-time listeners that also fills audiences with joy and introspection where social plights have left communities empty. At these moments, we are reminded that the musical experience is not a luxury, but an essential part of our humanity that has the unique ability to transcend all boundaries. BWV aims to bring this show to the greatest number of audiences around the world where the live musical experience can have a profound impact.
Concert Tour Projects
Utilizing Dobbs’ solo format allows BWV to successfully provide a high-quality, intimate concert program in locations where access can be challenging. Where appropriate, Dobbs has been joined by guest musicians and collaborated with music students for his performances. In 2004, BWV began presenting Dobbs’ concert of Bach and stories in schools throughout New Hampshire as well as in prisons and youth development centers in New Hampshire and Maine. Performances in Maine inspired local residents to develop music programming at youth facilities. In 2005, the Prison Concert Project expanded to Connecticut and California, to New York in 2008, to Vermont in 2009 and to Michigan in 2013. The project serves over 25 facilities annually.
In 2005, BWV began presenting Dobbs on tour in Palestine in collaboration with Al Kamandjati, a center which provides free music lessons for refugee kids. Concerts for schools in refugee camps inspire children to get involved with music, while public performances bring together local residents where they would not otherwise gather. Dobbs’ performances have also touched the participants of the Circus Behind the Wall, the Freedom Theater and the Computer Clubhouse.
In 2006, Dobbs was invited by the Foundation for Culture and a Civil Society to participate in the New Year’s Music Festival in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, the largest musical event since the fall of the Taliban, which had prohibited music of any kind. Hosted by various NGOs including WADAN and American Friendship Foundation as well as the National Institute of Music in Afghanistan, Dobbs has returned numerous times to perform in non-formal schools, orphanages and drug rehab centers presenting concerts and masterclasses.
In 2012, our programs expanded to Uganda, where Dobbs’ performed for rescued street children in schools and orphanages in collaboration with Dwelling Places. With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq in 2012, Dobbs presented 25 concerts in schools and community centers throughout Baghdad and the Kurdistan region in collaboration with local Iraqi musicians. Annual concert tours to Kurdistan have followed.
In 2008 with funding from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, BWV began presenting Concert-Lectures in schools and community centers. Dobbs performs and leads a discussion on the transformative place music has in developing communities as witnessed through his outreach tours to Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Uganda and the prison system of the U.S. Each concert-lecture showcases the music Dobbs presents to these communities, a short film presentation of his tours and concludes with a question and answer session.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Richard "Dobbs" Hartshorne
Musician & President
Gretchen Fisher, Secretary
Mimi Do, Treasurer
Los Angeles, CA
Menlo Park, CA