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Spotlight: Bailey moves to expand reach of Bach Festival

Zuill Bailey
Zuill Bailey

The Northwest Bach Festival is fast approaching, and taking new shape under new artistic director Zuill Bailey.

Bailey, a renowned concert cellist who also is artistic director of both the El Paso Pro Musica festival in Texas and the Sitka Music Festival in Alaska, is taking the festival beyond the walls of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

There will be performances at venues as diverse as the Lincoln Center, Barrister Winery, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Patsy Clark’s Mansion and the Bing Crosby Theater. In addition to concerts there will be film screenings and other special events, including a special CD release party marking Bailey’s upcoming collaboration with pianist Lara Downes called “Some Other Time.”

The festival runs Feb. 25 to March 9.

As in the past couple years, Bailey will perform J.S. Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. Unlike years past, which have seen these pieces played in one sitting in the gorgeous cathedral, Bailey is taking them on the road, performing one suite a night in six different locations – Barrister, Luxe Coffee House, Patsy Clark’s, the Davenport Hotel, the Bing and Holy Trinity.

And the catch? Only Bailey will know which suite he’ll be performing on a given night.

All told, said Connoisseur Concerts’ Gertrude Harvey, the festival is expanding from four or five concerts to 25 different musical events.

Look for a preview story in 7 on Friday, or visit for schedules and ticket information.

Bailey on Britten

Meanwhile, Bailey –who teaches cello at the University of Texas at El Paso – is back on the Billboard classical music charts. His latest CD on the Telarc label, a recording of Benjamin Britten’s Cello Symphony and Cello Sonata, is holding strong on the Billboard classical charts.

It’s currently at No. 7 after peaking at No. 6. Last month, the New York Times called the CD an “exciting new recording” and Sean Martinfield in the Huffington Post called it an “artistic triumph.”

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth, an event that was marked with concerts and special events around the world. Bailey was asked to perform the Britten symphony by the North Carolina Symphony, and the concert was recorded.

As Martinfield notes, the Britten cello symphony is not an easy work, saying it could be used as a “soundtrack for a meditation” on “Moby Dick.”

“The undercurrents are menacing,” Martinfield wrote, “the third and fourth movements slash through heavy turbulence, the resolution is decisive and magnificent.”

Bailey admits it is a piece that needs to grow on you.

“It’s an interesting CD. I keep telling people, don’t search for melodies, search for feelings,” Bailey said by phone from Anchorage on Friday. “Just listen and use your eyes and your life and let the music guide you. It takes time to really dig into that music.”

Festival early birds

Speaking of festivals, early bird passes to the Festival at Sandpoint are still available. Sure, we won’t know until May who the players are, but the early bird pass is a bargain: $219 for all eight nights of music. And chances are there will be some good acts to see. Previous festivals have featured Chris Isaak, Lyle Lovett, Indigo Girls, Pink Martini, Avett Brothers, Cake, Rosanne Cash, Barenaked Ladies … the list goes on.

Call (208) 265-4554 for information.

It’s called acting!

Acting and actors will be the subject of at least two plays being staged locally in coming weeks.

Interplayers Theatre is readying its one-man show, “Barrymore,” starring Patrick Treadway as the legendary stage and screen actor John Barrymore. It opens Feb. 27. Visit www.interplayerstheatre. org for details.

The SFCC Revelers, meanwhile, will produce “Compleat Female Stage Beauty” March 6-16 at the Spokane Falls Community College Spartan Theater. The play, by Jeffrey Thatcher, is set in 1661 London and centers around an actor who exclusively portrayed female characters. Visit academic/drama/Home.aspx for more information.

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