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Bach Festival, 16 and counting

A 2022 festival performance featured mezzo-soprano Nan Wagner, cellist Sandy Kiefer, organist C. Scott Hagler and conductor Elizabeth Crawford. (Courtesy of Paul Boyer)

Starting Sunday and all next week, Third Avenue Arts will celebrate the 338th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s the 16th annual collection of recitals and concerts organized by Four Corners impresario C. Scott Hagler.

The events, including the daily and highly popular Bach Lunches, have been designed to appeal to dedicated Bach fans as well as curiosity seekers and lovers of music in general.

“The idea for this festival kind of simmered in my head,” Hagler said. “And once I started mentioning it to people, I instantly had musicians calling me up wanting to participate. This was a festival just waiting to happen.”

The festival begins with two different student recitals at 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. All events are held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. The noontime recitals, which usually last about 30 minutes, begin Monday and continue through Friday. Noon concerts and lunches are included in the festival pass, but attendees may purchase concert and lunch separately at the door. This year, Manna soup kitchen will cater the lunches.

If you go

WHAT: 16th annual Durango Bach Festival, featuring musicians from the Four Corners in a series of lunchtime and evening performances.

WHEN: Sunday through March 18.

WHERE: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 910 East Third Ave.

TICKETS: From $5 to $20 individual events, or $125 Festival Pass plus fee. Through website or at the door.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.DurangoBachFestival.com, email Scott@3rdAveArts.org or call 903-8854.

Performers include many well-known Four Corners musicians. Check the website for specifics.

Two larger evening concerts begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, (March 15 and 18). The first is titled “Outside the Bachs: The Baroque Flute,” and features Rochelle Mann and Kathryn Shaffer with Hagler on harpsichord and organ. The Saturday finale presents the Bach Festival Orchestra and the Durango Chamber Singers performing Cantata No. 70, which highlights four soloists: soprano Gemma Kavanagh, alto Nan Wagner, tenor Andreas Tischhauser, and baritone Alfredo Beltran. Bach’s massive Brandenburg Concerto No, 5 will wrap up this year’s festival in a very big way and feature flutist Mann, violinist Lauren Avery and harpsichordist Mika Inouye.

Bach’s official birthday is still debated. Two possible dates have endured and bracket the Spring Equinox. Old Style dating lists Bach’s birth as March 21, 1685. New Style shifts the date forward to March 31. Either way, spring is coming. What matters is that our local Bach Festival continues.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.