500 years ago, a professor named Martin Luther delivered his 95 theses to the Archbishop of Mainz, creating a schism in the Roman Catholic Church and beginning the Reformation. To mark the anniversary, Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota has curated a five-day festival known as BachFest, with six concerts and presentations to celebrate the work and lasting impression of the great baroque composer. But what exactly does the Reformation have to do with Bach? A devout Lutheran, “Bach is probably the first reformation composer who devoted his entire output to the glory of God,” explains Artist Series Artistic Director Joseph Holt. Throughout his prolific career, Bach’s compositions included cantatas for every Sunday of the church year, which equals roughly three years of the Gregorian calendar. He also even used some of Luther’s own chorales in his work, retooling and shaping Luther’s composition into something greater. “It elevated everything Luther did,” says Holt. Perhaps one of Bach’s greatest accomplishments, according to Holt, was the Mass in B Minor, which audiences will get two opportunities to experience at the Church of the Redeemer on the final two days of the festival. But audiences will get a glimpse into many sides of Bach, with some great performers leading the way. The festival starts with Holt himself in the spotlight, playing four-hand piano with Artist Series’ Lee Dougherty Ross, and accompanying a vocal quartet from Choral Artists of Sarasota for “The Illegitimate Bach”—a series of humorous compositions written by P.D.Q. Bach, claiming to be Bach’s illegitimate son. The following day, audiences can enjoy a Bach documentary at the Selby Public Library, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, followed by the “Intimate Instrumental Bach” concert, featuring the husband-and-wife team of expert baroque violinist Carol Lieberman and Boston Symphony Principal Harpsichordist Mark Kroll. The pipe organ gets its due next, with a concert performance dubbing it “King of Instruments,” and exploring its use through various Bach compositions. And for the final concert before the Mass in B Minor closes out the festival, acclaimed pianist Ji, of Young Concert Artists International, will deliver his own two-hour performance—“Bach to the Future”—including his own interpretations of Bach’s work.

Caption: Pianist Ji will perform his own interpretation of Bach in Bach to the Future"