Luxuriating in sound is how Zuill Bailey describes his next two weeks at his home away from home, Spokane.
First up, the artistic director of the Northwest BachFest will perform Saturday and Sunday with the Spokane Symphony at the Fox.
The Grammy-winning cellist then will perform with a pair of old pianist friends, Tuesday with Awadagin Pratt and April 23 with Matt Herskowitz. Both shows will be held at the Barrister Winery. Pratt and Herskowitz will also perform solo, the former April 17 and the latter April 22, also at the Barrister Winery.
“It will be a great way for me to spend much of April,” Bailey said while calling from his El Paso, Texas, home.
The energetic Bailey recently returned from a five-week tour and he is coming back for more.
“I can’t sit still,” Bailey said. “I just had my 10th anniversary last year (with BachFest), It’s the 50th anniversary (of BachFest) and so this is all celebrations of all of that. So how can I not be up to mark all of this?”
Bailey will be front and center for Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85, with the Spokane Symphony, which will be conducted by James Lowe. Bailey will perform Elgar’s last major work, a lament to a lost era after the first World War. Mozart’s Requiem, which was incomplete upon his death only to be finished by his student, Sussmayr, is also part of the program.
“You don’t get closer to a higher meaning than with Mozart’s Requiem, ” Bailey said. “It’s beyond words and paired with a piece that was the last statement of Elgar, who was at the height of his powers when he created that concerto, is fantastic. It’s a perfect storm and will make for a perfect evening. For me to perform with the orchestra, it will be so special to collaborate with my friends.”
Soprano Amy Porter, alto Amanda Glover, tenor Pajl Wolf, bass Derrick Parker will sing. The Spokane Symphony Chorale and the Gonzaga University Concert Choir will also perform.
The scene shifts to the Barrister Winery for Bailey, who will be on hand Monday to witness “An Evening with Pratt.” The acclaimed Pratt pianist will perform Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor, S. 178, with Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
Bailey and Pratt, who were a duo three decades ago, will reunite Tuesday and perform Mendelssohn’s Concert Variations in D Major, Op. 17, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 for Cello and Piano in A Major, Op. 69, and Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Op. 38.
“We’re playing the repertoire that brought us together,” Bailey said. “Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms. This takes us back to the early ’90s when we formed our duo (in New York City). We had so many great times together and now that we have a chance to play together again, we’re taking advantage of that.”
Bailey is also close with Herskowitz, an adventurous player who enjoys taking artistic chances. “I’ve known Matt since my Juilliard days back in the ’90s,” Bailey said. “I’ve never met anyone like Matt. He does things differently.”
Herskowitz will aptly enough play Johann Sebastian Bach April 22 at the Barrister Winery.
While most classical musicians strive to replicate classical works, Herskowitz goes the other way. The quirky but venerable musician enjoys turning classical pieces into jazz fusion.
“It’s true that most musicians will split hairs in order to be so precise with what the composer created,” Bailey said. “But then there is Matt, who sees a much bigger picture. He’s a classically trained Juilliard pianist who does things they don’t teach at Juilliard. Matt is going to play his version of Rachmaninoff. It’ll be fascinating to see what he’ll do with our namesake, Bach. Who else will create jazz fusion with Bach? ”
Herskowitz and Bailey will perform April 23. The duo will deliver Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Var. 16 & 18) and Vocalise for Cello and Piano, Op. 34; Piatgorsky’s Variations on a Paganini theme for Cello and Piano; capped with Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 107.
“I’ll join Matt and we’ll come up with something amazing,” Bailey said. “What ties all of the performances I’ll witness and be part of when I return to Spokane for these two weeks is that it’s a celebration of music and people and there’s nothing better than that.”