The 18th annual Bach Around the Clock non-stop classical music marathon will begin on Friday, March 20, at 7 p.m., and continue without pause through Saturday, March 21, at midnight.
The festival is the brainchild of organist Albinas Prizgintas. “When we started the festival, we played only the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, but over the years, musicians kept suggesting Mozart or Beethoven. Now we celebrate the birth of Bach and perform everything because he is the father of all music.”
Albinas was born in Schweinfurt, Germany, in 1947 to Lithuanian parents in a camp for refugees displaced by World War II. His father and brother played violin, while his mother, grandfather and great-grandfather were organists.
Albinas moved to New York City to study at Juilliard, and it is there that he met his Parisian wife Manon, who co-produces the festival.
Although many performances will not be scheduled and will be a surprise—that’s what makes this festival so special—you can expect Ellis Marsalis, Sanford Hinderlie, Delfeayo Marsalis, Steve Masakowski, John Rankin, Helen Gillet, Victor Atkins and many, many others. There will be 300 performers in all.
At midnight on Friday, the silent film “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” will be shown with Albinas accompanying the film on the pipe organ, harkening back to the days of New Orleans born motion picture organist Rosa Rio.
If you’re going to attend the entire 29 hours, sleeping bags are permitted and coffee, tea, finger food and other refreshments will be available.
As usual, Prizgintas will close with Bach’s Toccata in D Major as the clock strikes midnight. “Playing Bach makes you stronger. And it cures your ills,” he said.
Bach Around the Clock, March 20-21, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Avenue, 522-0276, admission is free.