Bach Festival features choirs, Goldberg variations, B-Minor mass

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach – orderly and structured, yet so varied and nuanced – reflects the values and ethos of the Baroque era. His work continues to fascinate and illuminate, 268 years after his death, which is why the Montreal Bach Festival, founded in 2005, has become an essential part of the fall season.

Among the free events Nov. 26-29 and Dec. 3-6 is the lunchtime series of 8 concerts, featuring 40-minute sets by young Quebec musicians playing from the vast Bach repertoire. They are scheduled for Salle Claude Léveillée, Place des Arts.

Highlights of ticketed concerts

Nov. 17 – Among the most popular is the Night of the Choirs – a dozen of the city’s best amateur ensembles with Jonathan Oldenbarm at the organ: 4-10pm, Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul, donation $15.

A special childrens’ concert will take place Nov. 17 at 2pm with the Agora Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicolas Ellis at Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. $15

Nov. 20 – Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orlinski performs Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, with l’Harmonie des saisons, the Granby-based early-music ensemble, 7:30 pm, Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul, $20-$55.

Nov. 22 –St. John’s Passion features German tenor Julian Prégardien singing the part of The Evangelist as well as conducting the Bach Festival’s Choir and Orchestra in their debut. The choir includes students from our three advanced music schools, 7:30 pm, Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul, $20-$85.

Nov. 24 – Harpsichord master Luc Beauséjour will be playing on his own instruments selections from the works of Bach, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Louis Couperin, and Jean-Philippe Rameau, 7:30 pm, Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, $22-$43.

Nov. 28 – American pianist Jeremy Denk plays The Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 30 in E major, and Brahms’ Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann in F sharp minor: 7:30 pm, Bourgie Hall, $20-$69.

Nov. 30 – We’ve seen percussionist Mino Cinélu play with Miles Davis and Branford Marsalis, but here he teams up with three instrumentalist/vocalists – Jesse Fisher (keyboards), David Cutler (bass), and Scott Tixier (violin) – to improvise on Bach melodies, 8 pm, l’Astral, $38.

Dec. 1 – Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki directs his Bach Collegium orchestra and chorus in works by Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, and Handel, with British soprano Joanne Lunn, 7:30 pm, Bourgie Hall, $20-$75.

Dec. 3 – German violist Nils Mönkemeter and Korean pianist William Youn play pieces by Bach, Brahms, and Nine Lullabies for a New World, by Konstantia Gourzi, 7:30 pm, Bourgie Hall, $20-$49.

Dec. 4 – Conductor Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra play Bach’s Mass in B minor, with the MSO choir and soprano Hélène Guilmette, mezzo-soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux, tenor Julien Prégardien, and baritone Peter Harvey, 7:30 pm, Maison Symphonique, $54-$221.

Dec. 5 – Moscow-trained Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan, considered a virtuoso, performs works by Bach and Chopin, 7:30 pm, Bourgie Hall, $20-$60. or 514-989-9668

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