Bach against all odds

True to its game plan, the Montreal Bach Festival is releasing the program for its 2020 Festival on Wednesday. It will be held from November 19 to December 6. In what form ?

There’s a question that Bach Festival founder and director Alexandra Scheibler can’t answer: “How many versions of the lineup have you done? But the 2020 Festival was due to be made public today. He is.

“The situation is not new,” says Alexandra Scheibler. “Having our Festival in November was an advantage. Compared to the summer festivals that were closed, we had six months to return. It was a constant stress as everything was constantly changing, but we adapt to the situation. “

The initial program, which was to be announced in April, has been changed since the Bach Festival generally receives many foreign artists. The ensemble has been reconfigured with artists from here, for example Kerson Leong for the Sonatas and Partitas for violin, Stéphane Tétreault for Cello suites, Yannick Nézet-Séguin for the Mass in si, Bernard Labadie performing with Les Violons du Roy a prelude to the Festival on November 7th.

“It was always clear that we wouldn’t know what the situation would be, but it was equally clear that it was important to organize a festival to send a positive message to the audience and to the musicians. “

Direct at all costs

So the webcast was part of the equation quickly: “It was clear that the rooms could not be filled to capacity. So we created a platform,, which will be inaugurated during the Festival, but can be used afterwards, by others, outside. The streaming does not replace the concert, but it must be live, because we are a festival and a festival takes place live. “

Alexandra Scheibler notes that “the recent government announcement is for 28 days, so we are not closed and must do everything to get something to happen and we move forward” and this even though the likelihood of public attendance goes dwindling.

With the new situation, one of the concerts on Sunday, November 29, will lose all its salt. Filippo Gorini, a prominent young pianist, was to play theThe art of running away live from Turin for an audience gathered in Montreal in front of a giant screen. “It was a new concept inspired by what we did with Yo-Yo Ma in 2018: live a concert organized by the Bach Festival for the first time abroad in order to have an international component. “

The “streaming” does not replace the concert, but it must be live, because we are a festival and a festival takes place live

Other initiatives are in the spotlight, such as concerts ” late night »By Stéphane Tétreault at 10:30 pm in a room of 40 people. “What can happen? I do not know. But anything that is broadcast live will be recorded and broadcast even without an audience. Obviously, if we couldn’t happen at all, that would be something else, but, conversely, if the current situation continued, some streamings could be added. “

COVID has changed some things for the Bach Festival: “Our discussions and relations with government bodies have been closer and more fruitful than before. We never had such a dialogue. The Festival has been considered and recognized and we will try to help us. In what concrete form I don’t know, but the signals are good, ”says Ms. Scheibler. The aid will be fundamental, because ticket sales are a major part of the Festival’s income.

Like the OSM, the director of the Bach Festival “finds the government’s financial commitment to the survival of organizations tremendous.” On the other hand, Mrs. Scheibler attaches a big downside to it: “It is difficult for musicians to play without an audience. And a festival without an audience is just as difficult to live with, since we are doing all of this for the audience. What moves us and torments us is the future, because the audience is what matters to us, the festival, the musicians and the organizations that work with us. The message emitted suggesting that going to the concert is not safe and that it is what you shut down first is very heavy to carry. I imagine the situation is set to last. We should therefore very soon send out a contrary signal saying that what we are organizing is safe. Otherwise, I’m worried about the next few years. “

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