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Zuill Bailey revisits Bach cello suites in virtual BachFest

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 18, 2021

Northwest BachFest will celebrate its 44th year with an online concert series featuring selections from J.S. Bach’s “Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello” performed by artistic director and Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey. The concerts, filmed in various, notable locations around Spokane by Hamilton Studios, will be available for streaming from Feb. 26-28 and March 5-7.

The cello suites, arguably some of Bach’s most well-known pieces, are widely considered the instrument’s quintessential music. Their interpretation can make or break a musician. Bailey himself spent a decade perfecting his interpretation.

“They’ve become a kind of musical bible for cellists,” Bailey said. “They guide you without too much control, telling you where you are and putting you in a place that only Bach can, psychologically speaking.”

Following his career-launching 2010 recording of the cello suites, Bailey will soon be releasing a second recording, this time using Direct Stream Digital, an advanced musical recording software that, Bailey said, will dramatically improve the listening experience.

Bailey said that while 2020 stole a great many chances to perform, the solitude actually provided him with a real opportunity to revisit the suites.

“The isolation of this pandemic made me start to seriously contemplate them again,” Bailey said. “And I think it’s going to be a beautiful way to celebrate this Bach Festival and get us through to the other side.”

In the first concert, Bailey performs Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for Unaccompanied Cello, BWV 1007, as well as some of his favorite movements from other Bach Suites. The concert will begin streaming at 10 a.m. Feb. 26 and continue through the weekend until 10 p.m. Feb. 28.

The following weekend, Bailey performs Bach’s Suite No. 2 in D minor for Unaccompanied Cello, BWV 1008, among other Bach favorites. The concert will begin streaming at 10 a.m. March 5 and continue through the weekend until 10 p.m. March 7.

Access links for both performances will be provided to ticket buyers after purchase. Tickets are $25 per household for individual concerts or $45 per household for both at nwbachfest.com.

The festival will also include a series of free events including “Zuill Bailey Flash-Bach!,” among other short videos, filmed in Spokane in 2020. The series will be released free of charge on the Northwest BachFest YouTube Channel on Feb. 26.

For more information, call (509) 326-4942 and visit nwbachfest.com.

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