Bach on track: Bearsville hosts Schickele, Malkine & Horowitz’s Holiday Train Wreck

Peter Schickele

With Christmas ornaments now blinking and winking over Main Streets and “Frosty the Snowman” swamping the commercial airwaves, you might be feeling a little Scroogey, finding all that manufactured holiday cheer a wee bit empty. The sixth annual Holiday Train Wreck with Peter Schickele, Gilles Malkine and Mikhail Horowitz, held at the Bearsville Theater this Saturday, December 10 at 8 pm, might be just the right antidote. Billed as a comedy revue “dedicated to laughing at, not with, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa,” Holiday Train Wreck will likely also offer up some catchy melodies and dulcet harmonies that might just derail its anti-holiday mission after all.

Schickele, who has participated in four of the previous Train Wreck concerts, is currently rehearsing his half of the show: what Horowitz refers to as “the Not-Okay Chorale.” He’s bringing up four singers from New York City – Elizabeth Farnum, Alexandra Sweeton, Brian Dougherty and Lewis White – to perform his rounds and songs, including a couple by his alter ego, P. D. Q. Bach (Schickele refers to the phantom progeny of J. S. as “the 21st of Bach’s 20 children,” a personage whom he has brought impressively to life over the airwaves in decades past).

The Bearsville concert follows a performance at Carnegie Hall on December 4 of a new trio for piano, violin and cello that Schickele composed a year ago. The pieces that’ll be sung at Bearsville fall between the “complete goof” of P. D. Q. Bach and his serious chamber music, said Schickele. As composer, performer, musicologist, musicology satirist and widely known radio personality, Schickele – who was educated at Juilliard and started out as a Music professor – has had a charmed life, never missing a beat in exchanging or piling on his hats.


Thirty years ago, he bought a house in Woodstock, where he and his wife have been living pretty much full-time for the past decade. Now he’s semi-retired: “I used to tour a lot, with up to 60 concerts a year on the road, but I don’t do that any more,” he said. “Traveling is not so much fun.” But he’s busy as ever writing music and performing locally from time to time.

At the Bearsville concert, “I’ll be singing a little bit. The one non-Peter Schickele piece is the Elvis Presley song ‘Old Shep,’” a perfect example, he noted, of the Southern US’s “inexhaustible capacity for sentiment. It was never released as a single, but it’s on one of his LPs.”

All in all, it should be a fun, madcap evening, overflowing with wit, talent and the oddball surprise. Tickets are $20, and reservations are required. The show starts at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Visit