PORTLAND, Maine, (August 5, 2020) – The Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ today announced a plan to bring performance back to Merrill Auditorium. The group’s annual Bach Birthday Bash, originally scheduled for March 20th, was rescheduled, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, to be a live performance on Saturday, September 26th at 7pm. As Merrill Auditorium remains closed, the group now plans to present a livestreamed concert on the same day, at the same time. Portland Municipal Organist James Kennerley will present Back with Bach, a reimagined Bach program for an online audience. Kennerley will be live in the auditorium and bring Bach favorites to the people of the city of Portland, the state of Maine (and beyond) in a free concert. Attendees are asked to reserve their free access at PortTIX.com. Reservations are required in order to receive the livestream link prior to the event.
The group also shared that their annual Halloween concert, this year, Kennerley accompanying the 1923 silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame with his own improvised score, will be recorded in Merrill Auditorium and be made available for viewing at the Saco (ME) Drive-In for 250 cars on Saturday, October 17th, as well as available for online viewing over Halloween weekend. The annual Christmas With Kennerley concert will also be pre-recorded and made available for online viewing in December. These two concerts will be available on a Pay-What-You-Choose scale (the Saco Drive-in event will have a flat per car fee). Tickets for Halloween and Christmas will go on sale at PortTIX on August 28.
“The last few months have been an exercise in re-invention. Our Board of Directors realized early on what an, almost, enviable position we were in when it comes to music performance during the coronavirus pandemic. We can’t take our instrument out of Merrill Auditorium, which some might see as a negative, but James Kennerley can replicate an entire orchestra on the Kotzschmar Organ. It is that versatile. It allows James to make beautiful, rich-sounding music, bypassing the health concerns associated with gathering large groups of performers. The term ‘one-man-band’ has been used, playfully, in many of our visioning meetings. We know people are starved for entertainment that is new, and our first concert is a gift the Kotzschmar Board felt very strongly about offering to the many fans of the Kotzschmar Organ (here in Maine and beyond). It is not in-person, we know that, but it will still be a connection to the Kotzschmar Organ and James Kennerley. The organ belongs to the people of the city of Portland. It was the center of musical life when it was installed in 1912. We are delighted to make these performances happen for our cherished city in 2020,” shared Executive Director Shireen Shahawy.