UMass to Host Fourth Bach Festival and Symposium April 20-25

Matt Haimovitz
Matt Haimovitz

The 2021 Bach Festival and Symposium, hosted by the UMass Amherst department of music and dance, will take place April 20-25 in an entirely virtual format. UMass students and faculty will once again be joined by internationally recognized performers and researchers in celebrating the music and legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach. The is the fourth time that the department has hosted this multi- faceted event, which was organized this year by faculty members Elizabeth Chang, William Hite, Erinn Knyt and Tony Thornton, along with co-founders Amanda Stenroos MM ‘15 and Professor Emeritus Ernest May.

The festival’s concert schedule features a series of free pre-recorded performances by UMass students and faculty that will be shown on YouTube from Apr 20-23 at 7:30 p.m.each evening. The concerts will include a variety of Bach’s music for solo musicians and chamber ensembles, plus world premieres of related works by department chair Salvatore Macchia and a new piece for saxophones and dancer by the faculty duo of Jonathan-Hulting Cohen and Lauren Cox. The festival will also include performances by faculty members Edward Arron, Elizabeth Chang,Cobus du Toit, Ayano Kataoka, Kathryn Lockwood and Gregory Spiridopoulos, as well as the Opus One Chamber Orchestra, which consists of students and faculty from the department’s string studios. Guest performers will include former UMass percussion professor Eduardo Leandro, electronic musician Jazer Giles and harpsichordist Gregory Hayes.

The day-long Bach Symposium, titled “Late Style and the Idea of the Summative Work in Bach and Beethoven” will take place via Zoom videoconference on April 24, and will feature keynote addresses by Robert Marshall of Brandeis University and Scott Burnham from Princeton University as well as the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The symposium will also feature scholarly presentations by an international roster of music theorists and historians, led by Erinn Knyt and Ernest May representing UMass. The symposium is free and open to the public – complete information on the symposium and the April 20-23 performances can be found at

The culminating event for the UMass 2021 Bach Festival and Symposium is a special livestreamed concert Sunday, April 25 at 3 p.m. hosted by the UMass Fine Arts Center. Cellist Matt Haimovitz presents a program entitled “Bach Listening Room.” Renowned as a musical pioneer, Haimovitz is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” The repertoire includes Bach’s “Suite VI in D major” (performed on cello piccolo) and the Prelude to “Suite II in D minor,” plus two world-premiere works: Suolo” by Mt. Holyoke College music professor David Sanford, and “Diaphanous Graces” by Luna Pearl Woolf, a 2021 GRAMMY-nominee for her album, “Fire and Flood.” The concert is followed by a live Q & A moderated by Elizabeth Chang and Michael Sakamoto, Fine Arts Center interim director of programming with special guest composer Luna Pearl Woolf. Composer Woolf has long used her creative voice to advocate for social and political change. ​Praised by The New York Times for its “psychological nuances and emotional depth,” her music is characterized by its dramatic intention, with a penetrating focus on music’s capacity as a storytelling language. Audience members are able to post questions in the YouTube comments and participate in the discussion. Tickets for Bach Listening Room are $10 per household or device, and can be purchased from the FAC Box Office at or by calling 413-545-2511.

The 2021 UMass Amherst Bach Festival and Symposium is sponsored by the UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the UMass Office of Research and Engagement, the Fine Arts Center and the UMass Arts Council.The Matt Haimovitz concert is sponsored by the Vidda Foundation, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Applewood and Loomis Communities, Florence Bank, El Sol Latinoand Coca Cola.