2021 Bach Festival Press Release


Grace Episcopal Church, Georgetown, is hosting its 27th annual Bach Festival this July. Grace Church will once again welcome all music lovers to enjoy performances of some of the greatest music ever written on  July 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, and 30. Due to the COVID Pandemic, we were not able to host our 27th festival in 2020. So, since similar restrictions still persist, we will now be producing our 27th Bach Festival virtually on our website, gracedc.org.

Created in 1993, the Festival has shared the incomparable music of Johann Sebastian Bach through a series of innovative and integrated programs. Festivals have also featured compositions by Bach contemporaries and those he influenced. The Washington Post has commented: “Georgetown’s C & O Canal runs near Grace Church, set quietly back from Wisconsin Avenue and a hair’s-breadth from the Potomac.  The church offers one of Washington’s supreme concert series, its annual Bach Festival.”

The acoustics of the church are well suited to chamber ensembles; the A. David Moore Organ (1981) is a fine partner for performances of the music of Bach and his contemporaries.  Organist/choirmaster Dr. Francine Maté has directed the Festival since 2000.  Performers in the twenty-six years of Bach Festivals have been drawn primarily from the Washington, DC area; others have been invited from within the United States and internationally. Even though the concerts for 2021 will not be “live” in the Grace sanctuary, 2 concerts will feature the Grace organ.

The series begins on Saturday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m. with current Bach Festival Director, Organist Francine Maté, performing works by J.S. Bach, Dietrich Buxtehude, and Nicolaus Bruhns. Works on the program include the famous Toccata and Fugue in d minor, BWV 565 and one of the 2 Preludes and Fugues of Nicolaus Bruhns in e minor.

Polish Organist Dr. Michał Szostak on Sunday, July 18 at 1:30 will present videos of his performances of works by JS Bach, Nicolaus Bruhns, and Dietrich Buxtehude on various organs in Europe including Saint-Eustache, Paris, France, and Legnica, Poland. His program includes the 2nd of the two Bruhns Preludes and Fugues in e minor and the glorious JS Bach Passacaglia and Fugue. Dr. Szostak has been a friend of Grace Church since he performed a solo organ recital in the Bach Festival July 2018 series. We welcome Dr. Szostak back to our Bach Festival today.

Italian Organist Salvatore Pronestì on Friday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. will present a concert of organ improvisations on the organs of the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, Germany, as well as other organs in Italy and The United States. JS Bach was Organist and Kapellmeister at both the churches in Leipzig in the last 25 years of his life. Mr. Pronestì is a unique organist in that he is not only a Concert Organist, but also a Master Organ Builder. One improvisation will be on one of the organs that he created. Several other videos will be on organs such as the Pantheon in Rome, of which he is the Curator. His program is titled “An Italian Concert Organist/Organ Builder from Leipzig to Atlantic City: Improvisations from Both Sides of the Pond.”

On Saturday, July 24 at 7:30 pm, Founder of the Bach Festival at Grace Church and Harpsichordist/Organist, Lawrence Molinaro, will be joined by Shaughn Dowd and Martha Molinaro, Flutes, Erika Sato, Violin, and Grace Molinaro, Cello, to perform a program featuring trio sonatas by Quantz and J.S. Bach as well as Bach’s sublime Sonata in e minor, BWV 1034 for Flute and continuo. Mr. Molinaro and Ms. Dowd were a part of the first Bach Festival at Grace Church in 1993, and many Bach Festivals since that time. Mr. Molinaro and Ms. Sato have played in many of our Bach Festival concerts, and we welcome them back tonight. Grace Molinaro performed in our 2019 Bach Festival, and this is Martha Molinaro’s first performance on our series. We welcome them both this evening.

On Sunday, July 25 at 1:30 pm , Austrian Organist, Michael Koenig, performs an all JS Bach recital on the St. George’s Hanover Square, London, England, American organ built by Richards, Fowkes, & Co. Works include the Pièce d’Orgue BWV 572, and the Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541. Mr. Koenig has lived in London, England since September 2018 where he completed a second Master’s Degree.  In September 2021 he began a Doctoral program at Oxford University, Oxford, England. This is Mr. Koenig’s first performance in the Bach Festival at Grace Church. We are grateful to have him perform in our Festival, and we give him a big welcome to our Bach Festival.

The Festival concludes on Friday, July 30 at 7:30 pm, with Soo Young Chrisfield, Soprano, Regino Madrid, Violin, Fatma Daglar, Oboe D’Amore, Charlie Powers, Cello, and Larry Molinaro, Harpsichord, performing movements from Bach cantata, BWV 210. Organ music will be performed by Larry Molinaro on the Grace Church A. David Moore Organ. Ms. Chrisfield, Mr. Madrid, and Mr. Powers have played in numerous Bach Concerts at Grace Church over the years, and we welcome them again. We welcome Ms. Daglar’s first performance in our Festival for this evening.

For more information, please visit our website at www.gracedc.org, or e-mail or call the Bach Festival Director, Dr. Francine Maté, at bach@gracedc.org or 202-333-7100.