Northwest Bach Festival celebrates 40 years

Spokane cellist Zuill Bailey presides over 14 days of majestic music, Feb. 27-March 11

New & Notable

The 40th annual Northwest Bach Festival, directed by Grammy-winning cellist Zuill Bailey, kicks off Feb. 27 with 14 days of musical excellence, including Festival Classics Concerts, Twilight Tour Concerts, a special festival event focused on Don Quixote, Flash-Bach! appearances, a Festival Grand Celebration and more.

Bach Festival Classic Concerts

Bach Festival: The Ying Quartet
The Grammy-winning Ying Quartet kicks off this year’s classic series.Photo © J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

The Festival Classics concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Barrister Wintery with the Grammy-winning Ying String Quartet and 2017 Triple-Grammy winner Zuill Bailey, cello. The program includes the Mendelssohn String Quartet in Eb Major, Op. 12, the Berg String Quartet, Op. 3 and Beethoven’s most famous sonata, “Kreutzer,” arranged for String Quintet in A Major, Op. 47. Tickets are $35 and $15 for students.

The Ying Quartet and Bailey also perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 2 at the Hamilton Studio, with the quartet’s Robin Scott performing the J.S. Bach Sonata No. 1. in G minor for Solo Violin. The Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 arranged for Cello and String Quartet, and the Arensky Cello Quartet No. 2 in A minor for two cellos are also on the menu. The much-loved Schumann Concerto, arranged by Bailey and the Ying Quartet in consultation with composer Philip Lasser, requires five virtuosic string musicians to fully explore its brilliance and yearning. Five Grammy Winners on stage together is not to be missed! Tickets are $15-$35.


The first week of the Festival concludes at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 4 at the Barrister with the Ying String Quartet, Bailey, and David Armstrong, viola. The program includes the Mozart Adagio & Fugue, K. 546, the Beethoven String Quartet No. 10 in Eb Major, Op. 74 (the “Harp” Quartet) and the lovely Brahms Sextet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 36, written only five years after his first string sextet, and very clearly demonstrating the maturity and emotional depth that we have come to expect throughout his later compositions. Tickets are $15-$35.

The Don Quixote Series

Pianist Matt Herskowitz
Pianist Matt Herskowitz lends his piano stylings for the Northwest Bach Festival.

The Festival Classics Concerts continue at 7:30 p.m. March 5 at the Barrister with a West Coast Premiere of a Laszlo Varga arrangement for Sextet of the popular Richard Strauss Don Quixote with acclaimed Spokane musicians Mateusz Wolski, violin; Nick Carper, viola; Daniel Cotter, bass clarinet, Emily Browne, horn, joining Matt Herskowitz, piano (returning by popular demand after thrilling festival audiences in 2016) and with Bailey, cello, playing the part of the romantic dreamer, Don Quixote. The dramatic Ernö Dohnányi Sextet in C Major, Op. 37 will also be featured on the program. Tickets are $15-$35.

A Festival Special Event, 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Hamilton Studio, again highlights the Laszlo Varga arrangement Don Quixote, this time performed with dramatic images from “Don Quixote, The Man of La Mancha,” projected above the performers, and Ernö Dohnányi’s sextet. This performance also includes solo piano stylings by the acclaimed Matt Herskowitz. No-host service from a spirits and wine bar, a special Don Quixote cocktail, and other options will be available; tickets are $48.

On Thursday, March 8, the Don Quixote/Dohnanyi program travels to the Hagadone Event Center in Coeur d’Alene where the LaszloVarga arrangement for Sextet of the Strauss Don Quixote will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$35.

More Bach Festival Classics

Festival Classics continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9 at the Barrister with pianist Herskowitz performing music from Gottschalk to Gershwin. Chip Phillips, clarinet, and Bailey, cello, join Herskowitz for the Brahms Clarinet Trio in A minor along with other selections that feature the cellist. Tickets are $15-$35.

Festival Classics conclude at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 11, with a grand Finale Concert in St. John’s Cathedral featuring the artistry of John Bodinger, organ, in virtuosic solo work on Bach’s original instrument, plus selections for cello and organ with Bailey. The program includes J.S. Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582; Max Bruch Kol Nidrei, Op. 47; Ernest Bloch SchelomoHebraic Rhapsody for Solo Cello and Organ; César Franck Choral No. 1 in E Major, FWV 38. Tickets are $15-$35.

Bach Festival Finale: Listen Up and Celebrate!

The Festival wraps up at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Barrister with Listen Up! Eat Up! Drink Up! Celebrate! The finale features a buffet dinner, wines, pianist Matt Herskowitz’s musical treats, an inspiring Flamenco dance performance, several exclusive “loud” auction items and culinary-themed silent auction. Tickets are $77.

Also on tap: Twilight Interlude Concerts from 6-7 p.m. on selected evenings; Flash-Bach! performances at noon March 2 and 9 with Zuill Bailey and guest artists at downtown venues; and free Bach’s Lunch concerts, noon March 1 and 8 at River Park Square’s Kress Gallery.

For more details, visit; order tickets at or by telephone at 800-838-3006.