Despite coronavirus – Fifth Bach festival plays on

Baritone singer Oded Reich and saxophone player Abatte Barihun among those expected to perform in the festival.

The Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra  (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The fifth edition of the Bach Festival will go on as planned despite recent instructions by the Health Ministry forcing anyone entering the country to begin a two-weeks quarantine period, the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra has said in a statement. 
The festival marks the 335th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach with a series of performances and lectures honoring his legacy, as well as exploring why his works became a benchmark of uplifting, profound musical genius. 
The festival has faced a great deal of difficulty thanks to the coronavirus epidemic. French conductor Christophe Rosse had to cancel his participation, as did replacement Polish conductor Martyna Pastuszka. 
Luckily, bass singer Oded Reich is expected to be released from home quarantine in time to perform at a unique concert at the Jerusalem YMCA to be held on Tuesday. 
In addition, music lovers will get a chance to hear a unique bell tower concert at that same location and a special organ performance at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer where Professor Hartmut Rohmeyer will play Bach’s organ works. 
Speaking with the Jerusalem Post, CEO of the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra [JBO] Gilli Alon-Bitton explained that while the JBO “performs music using historical instruments, in this festival we mean to present [Bach’s] music and show who influenced him and who was influenced by him.” 
“I think there is something very true-to-form in playing historical music with period instruments,” Bitton said, “it is a way to touch the past as it was.”  She pointed out the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer has a Baroque-style organ,  
Noting that Bach is unique in his range of influence, she said the festival includes a special performance by saxophone player Abatte Barihun and pianist Anat Fort. While their performance will be held on March 19 in the Jerusalem Harmony Center, the Mormon University will host a special concert on Monday in which young musicians will mark the ending of a special workshop on Baroque music and Jazz. Fort and Barihun will take part in that concert which is free of charge. 
On March 20, music buffs will be able to attend a free day of lectures held at the Jerusalem YMCA in which Dr. Alon Shab and reporter Lior Fridman will discuss why Bach has been so incredibly popular for over three centuries. 
More details can be found on the JBO site at