BLUE HILL — On Saturday, April 1, in celebration of what would be Johann Sebastian Bach’s 338th birthday, Blue Hill Bach will present a concert at 4 p.m. at St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill.
In his debut appearance with Blue Hill Bach, the multi-talented James Kennerley will perform on the church’s beautiful Karl Wilhelm pipe organ.
The all-Bach recital will comprise works in a variety of styles from all periods of the composer’s oeuvre. On the program are four chorale preludes, three of which are based on Martin Luther’s hymn, “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland,” the Organ Concerto in G Major, BWV 592, which was Bach’s transcription of an instrumental concerto by Prinz Johann Ernst, the Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 550, and the massive Toccata in F major, which features two extended solos for pedal alone.
“According to contemporary accounts, Johann Sebastian Bach was able to play music with his two feet that many musicians struggled to do with their 10 fingers,” said Kennerley, adding that Bach’s organ music “delights the spirit and nourishes the soul.”
A native of the United Kingdom, James Kennerley was educated at Harrow School and Cambridge University, where he was Organ Scholar at Jesus College. Kennerley holds degrees from Cambridge University and The Juilliard School.
In 2017, he was appointed the municipal organist of Portland and since 2019 he has been director of music at St. Paul’s Church and Choir School in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass. A recognized specialist in the realm of early music, he works as a conductor, keyboardist, singer and composer. He has performed as soloist and as a member of major ensembles at venues throughout the U.S. and Europe.
This summer, Kennerley will take on the role of music director for Blue Hill Bach’s annual festival, scheduled for July 16-22. “We are enormously pleased that James Kennerley will step in for John Finney, who will be on sabbatical this summer, and we look forward to introducing him to Blue Hill on April 1,” said Blue Hill Bach Executive Director Marcia Gronewold Sly.
Blue Hill Bach was founded in 2011 with the mission of presenting historically informed performances, recordings and educational programs that explore vocal and instrumental music of the Baroque and other repertoire that demonstrates the place of Baroque music in music history.
Under the direction of Stephen Hammer, artistic director, Blue Hill Bach draws upon musicians from Maine, greater New England and across the U.S. who are specialists in Baroque performance practice. Players in the ensemble perform on original period instruments or replicas, creating a sound that is faithful to the composers’ intent.
The 2023 Bach’s birthday concert, which marks the beginning of Blue Hill Bach’s 13th season, will be at St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, 330 Hinckley Ridge Road, Blue Hill. Audience members will be required to wear masks.
Admission is $25 general, $10 for students and under 18 free.