Bach Virtuosi Festival in Portland, ME returns June 19-25, 2024

Ninth Annual Bach Virtuosi Festival Returns to Portland, Maine

Cantatas, Sonatas and Preludes fill the air from June 19 – 25, 2024

June 5, 2024 – Following three sold out New York City concerts and a lecture from the leading Bach historian, Bach Virtuosi Festival, directed by violinist and conductor Lewis Kaplan, returns to Portland, Maine for its ninth summer from June 19-25. The inspiring music of J.S. Bach, arguably the most influential composer of all time, will echo through St. Luke’s Cathedral, Etz Chaim Synagogue, and Portland Museum of Art (PMA), where graduate students from The Juilliard School and Eastman School of Music will perform a free concert on Friday, June 21 as a way of encouraging students to appreciate and study Bach and classical music.

2024 is a dream year for Bach Virtuosi Festival with its debut in New York City (May 13 – 21), which opened with a lecture from renowned Bach historian and author Christoph Wolff before selling out three concerts, something that few people anticipated. It is also the year that BVF reaches new heights in Portland, ME from June 19 – 25. Both festivals with world renowned artists, impeccable standards, and the same integrity to the music will share the theme, “The Eternal Bach,” inspired by the NASA spacecraft, Voyager 1. Launched in 1977 and still traveling in distant space, its ongoing mission is to introduce planet Earth to intelligent beings should they be encountered. On board is a recording of 20 works of music, The Golden Record, three of which are by J.S. Bach, the most by any composer. Each piece are performed at the opening night concerts in both cities.

An extra special aspect to this summer’s festival is the 90th birthday celebration of Lewis Kaplan, founder, violinist and conductor. It is another big year for him: the 60th anniversary of Bowdoin International Music Festival, which he founded and directed for 50 years, between 1964-2014.

Among the brilliant music of Bach being performed, the 2024 Bach Virtuosi Festival will include three Brandenburg Concerti (Nos. 2, 3, and 5), a first for the festival, which always includes one of these concerti. Brandenburg No. 3 has not been performed at BVF since 2016.

The three Bach pieces that are preserved on The Golden Record, Prelude and Fugue in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II; Gavotte from the E Major Partita for solo violin; and Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, will be performed at the opening night concert, “The Eternal Bach.” Among the other dazzling pieces in Portland’s The Eternal Bach is the vocal Motet, Jesu Meine Freude, three vocal excerpts from Bach Magnificat, and Trio Sonata in D minor, for flute, violin and continuo before concluding with Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.

What at first glance might seem like an eclectic combination for an opening night concert is drawn together beautifully by clever drama and exquisite performances that bring out the depths of Bach’s playful work.

The Thursday 6/20 concert at Etz Chaim Synagogue, which is entitled, “Cantatas, Sonatas, and Preludes” is predominantly Bach, except for one vocal work – Cantatas 1-4 by Dietrich Buxtehude, a major influence on J.S. Bach. Including Buxtehude in a predominantly Bach concert is a way of tipping-the-cap to Bach’s illustrious baroque predecessor. The concert will begin with the exceptional musicians, cellist Beiliang Zhu and harpsichordist Arthur Haas, performing Sonata in G major for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord BWV 1027. Following intermission, there will be five Bach Sinfonias that were arranged by Dmitry Sitkovetsky (No. 1 in C Major, BWV 787; No. 13 in A Minor, BWV 799; No. 10 in G Major, BWV 796; No. 7 in E Minor, BWV 793; No. 3 in D Major, BWV 789), followed by Preludes and Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier, Book I and Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G  major, BWV 1048.

On Friday, June 21 at 5:30 PM, BVF returns for a third year to the Portland Museum of Art for a free concert by the young associates of the festival, students from Juilliard and Eastman, who will match music with fine art that is displayed on PMA’s lobby wall.

The following night, BVF celebrates its second year of Bach by Candlelight in the intimate Chapel at St. Luke’s Cathedral. Because this performance sold out last year, three Virtuosi will repeat their 6:00 PM performance at 8:00 PM. This includes the Bach Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009, performed by virtuoso cellist Nathan Whittaker; followed by Concerto in F major, BWV 978, a Vivaldi composition that was arranged by Bach, and performed by Arthur Haas on harpsichord; the BBC program ends with violinist Ariadne Daskalakis playing Bach’s Partita “Chaconne” in D Minor. The intimacy felt between a solo musician and the audience when the musician is on the same level as the audience is spectacular. Bach by Candlelight is designed with this in mind. It is held in-the-round in the small chapel, which only seats 80 people and dimly lit, so the audience can fully appreciate and take in the experience of these magical performances.

On Sunday, June 23, the festival has programmed its long-standing program, Before Bach and Beyond, which features composers who inspired JS Bach and composers who were inspired by arguably the greatest composer of all time.

The 2024 Bach Virtuosi Festival concludes with a big flair. Entitled “What a Century! Bach Handel Vivaldi,” begins with Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 with flutist Emi Ferguson, followed by Handel vocal pieces from Solomon, HWV 67, featuring soprano Sherezade Panthaki and countertenor Jay Carter and Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in a minor Opus 3 No 8 featuring violinists Renée Jolles and Ariadne Daskalakis. The final piece is Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 5, BWV 1050, which features a 75-measure harpsichord solo from Arthur Haas.

Bach Virtuosi Festival has grown into a treasured week-long program thanks to its internationally-renowned musicians, baroque repertoire, speakers, lectures, and masterclasses. This year’s festival can arguably be called a “once-in-a-lifetime” festival dating back to its inception. Each musician boasts acclaimed accomplishments, including global tours, professorships, and recordings. Returning to the festival is John Ferrillo, first oboe of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, an internationally-respected baroque oboist, and John Thiessen, one of the most acclaimed baroque trumpet players performing.

Students and children attend concerts for free and are encouraged to experience how professional musicians, at the top of their careers, perform the greatest baroque music.


Lewis Kaplan, director

Ariadne Daskalakis and Renée Jolles, Violins

Sebastian Gottschick, viola

Beiliang Zhu and Nathan Whittaker, celli

Jordan Frazier, Double Bass

Emi Ferguson and Melanie Williams, Flutes

Arthur Haas and Jonathan Salamon, Harpsichord and Organ

John Ferrillo, oboe

John Thiessen, trumpet

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Helen Karloski, mezzo-soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Jacob Perry, tenor
Paul Max Tipton, bass-baritone

Festival Associates

Bo Pang and Jessica Wu, violins

Lucy Gelber, viola

Kelcey Howell, cello

Six Concerts — June 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25 [ – concerts begin at 7:30 PM, unless noted.


The Mission of the Bach Virtuosi Festival, founded by violinist Lewis Kaplan, is to enrich the community by presenting outstanding music performed with brilliance and passion. Concerts are held in St. Luke’s Cathedral, Etz Chaim Synagogue, and Portland Museum of Art, spaces with marvelous acoustics where the attendees can be close to the musicians while furthering their appreciation for this exalted music.

FOR INFORMATION: [email protected] 

Concert and Program Schedule:

Wednesday, June 19 at 7:30 PM – St. Luke’s Cathedral (143 State Street, Portland)

The Eternal Bach

Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 870: Book 2, The Well Tempered Clavier
Arthur Haas, harpsichord

Gavotte from Partita in E major BWV 1006
Ariadne Daskalakis, violin

Jesu meine Freude, BWV 227

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Helen Karloski, mezzo soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Jacob Perry, tenor
Paul Max Tipton, bass-baritone


Trio Sonata in D minor, for flute, violin, and continuo, BWV 527
Ariadne Daskalakis, violin
Melanie Williams, flute
Arthur Haas, harpsichord

Excerpts from Bach Magnificat, BWV 243

Et exultavit spiritus meus
Quia fecit mihi magna
Suscepit Israel
Deposuit Potentes

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Helen Karloski, mezzo soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Jacob Perry, tenor
Paul Max Tipton, bass-baritone

Brandenburg Concerto Number 2 in F major, BWV 1047
John Ferrillo, oboe
Melanie Williams, flute
Renee Jolles, violin
Arthur Haas, harpsichord

Thursday, June 20 at 7:30 PM – Etz Chaim Synagogue (267 Congress Street, Portland)

Cantatas, Sonatas and Preludes

J.S. Bach
Sonata in G major for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord BWV 1027

Beiliang Zhu, cello
Arthur Haas, harpsichord

Dietrich Buxtehude  (1637-1707) 
From Membra Jesu Nostri, BuxWV 075

(A cycle of seven cantatas as a meditation on the body of Jesus Christ)

Cantata II: Ad Genua (To the knees)

Cantata III: Ad manus (To the hands)

Cantata IV: Ad latus (To the side)

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Helen Karloski, mezzo soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Jacob Perry, tenor
Paul Max Tipton, bass-baritone


J.S. Bach                    Five Sinfonias arr. by Sitkovetsky
No. 1 in C Major, BWV 787
No. 13 in A Minor, BWV 799
No. 10 in G Major, BWV 796
No. 7 in E Minor, BWV 793
No. 3 in D Major, BWV 789

J.S. Bach
A Selection of Preludes and Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier, Book I

Prelude and Fugue VIII in E-flat/D# Minor, BWV 853

Prelude and Fugue XXIII in B Major, BWV 868

Prelude (Andante) and Fugue (Largo) XXIV in B Minor, BWV 869

J.S. Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G  major, BWV 1048

Friday, June 21 at 5:30 PM – Portland Museum of Art (7 Congress Square, Portland)

Young Artists Series:
free music performed by students from The Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music during “Free Fridays” at the Portland Museum of Art, a gift to the City of Portland

Pairing works of art at PMA with music, Bach Virtuosi Festival Associate Artists will perform works from Mozart, Beethoven, George Walker, and Johann Sebastian Bach. The selection of music is based around the museum’s collections of art and personally curated by the BVF Associate Artists.

Bo Pang, violin

Jessica Wu, violin

Lucy Gelber, viola

Kelcey Howell, cello

“Our decision to perform these exquisite musical works is due to the intricacy of the art and how the two relate to each other,” says cellist Kelcey Howell. “We are moved by the intricacy of works by artists like Wyeth, Winslow Homer and John Steuart Curry. All of us felt a deep connection to how this artwork relates to Mozart, Hailstork, Beethoven, and Bach. There is an endurance to these composers and these artists – they work well together and we are honored to tie together both artforms in this multimedia recital.”

Mozart: String Duo No. 1 for Violin and Viola in G Major, KV 423 – I. Allegro paired with Denyse Thomasos “Lollipop Nation” – performed by Lucy Gelber & Bo Pang

J.S.Bach: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major BWV 1007 – Prelude and Gigue paired with Alex Katz “From the Bridge 2” & Barbara Morgan “Martha Graham—American Document” performed by Kelcey Howell

J.S.Bach: Violin Sonata No. 3 in C Major BWV 1005 – Largo and Allegro assai paired with Arthur Jafa “AGHDRA, 2021” and Fernand Léger “Untitled” performed by Jessica Wu

George Walker: Lyric for Strings paired with Anna Eliza Hardy “Chrysanthemums” performed by Quartet

J.S.Bach: Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major BWV 1006 – Loure and Gavotte en Rondeau paired with Albert Bierstadt “Royal Arches” and Winslow Homer “Horse And Plowman” performed by Bo Pang

Adolphus Hailstork: Variations on “Draw the Sacred Circle Closer” paired with John Steuart Curry “Low Tide at the Pier” performed by Lucy Gelber

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18 No. 2 – IV. Allegro molto, quasi Presto paired with Newell Convers Wyeth “Georges Islands, Penobscot Bay” performed by The Quartet

Saturday, June 22 at 6:00 & 8:00 PM – St. Luke’s Cathedral (143 State Street, Portland)

Bach by Candlelight

Bach Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major

  • Prelude.
  • Allemande.
  • Courante.
  • Sarabande.
  • Bourrée I / II.
  • Gigue.

Nathan Whittaker, cello

Concerto in F major, BWV 978
Antonio Vivaldi arranged by J.S. Bach

  • Allegro
  • Largo
  • Allegro

Arthur Haas, harpsichord

Bach Partita “Chaconne” in D Minor Partita

  • Allemande
  • Corrente
  • Sarabanda
  • Giga
  • Ciaccona

 Ariadne Daskalakis, violin

Sunday, June 23 at 7:30 PM –  St. Luke’s Cathedral
 (143 State Street, Portland)
Before Bach and Beyond: Music from composers who inspired J.S. Bach and composers who were inspired by him

Johann Bernhard Bach (1676-1749)
Ouverture E Minor
Ouverture – Air – Les plaisirs – Menuet I & II – Air –
Rigadon – Courante – Gavotte en Rondeaux

György Ligeti (1923-2006)     
Chaconne chromatique from Sonata for Viola Sola

Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)
Ach, dass ich Wassers gnug hätte for Alto, strings and basso continuo

William Walton (1902-1983)
Passacaglia for Cello Solo

Johann Ludwig Bach (1677-1731)  
Aria: Ach ja, die Ketten
Duet: Ich suche nur das Himmelleben from Trauermusik

Bela Bartok (1881-1945)  
Tempo di Ciacona from Sonata for Violin Solo (1944)

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704)
Partia IV for violin, viola and basso continuo from Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa

J.S. Bach/Procol Harum/Sebastian Gottschick
A White Air Shade of Pale

Tuesday, June 25 at 7:30 PM – St. Luke’s Cathedral
 (143 State Street, Portland)

What a Century! Bach Handel Vivaldi

J.S. Bach
Orchestral Suite #2 in B minor, BWV 1067

Emi Ferguson flute

George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759)
Music from Solomon, HWV 67

What tho’ I trace

Bless’d the Day when first my eyes

Haste to the cedar grove

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

Will the sun forget to streak

Welcome as the dawn of day

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor

Antonio Vivaldi
Viol Concerto in G Major, op.3#3 Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Transcribed for harpsichord in F Major, BWV 978 J.S. Bach




Ariadne Daskalakis, Renée Jolles, violins

J.S. Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No 5, BWV 1050

Emi Ferguson, flute
Renee Jolles, Ariadne Daskalakis, violin
Arthur Haas, harpsichord

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