Columbus Symphony leaders plan spirited Bach recital Sunday

Violinist Philip Palermo knows the lonely doldrums of the COVID-19 pandemic that kept him from performing with others for a full year until days ago. And he knows others must need a bit of relief and perhaps a release from the shadows and limitations of the ongoing health situation.

So the Columbus Symphony Orchestra concertmaster and unassuming musician is excited about using what he regularly calls his "fiddle" to play a few Johann Sebastian Bach movements that he says constitute "a jig."

So forgive him at 3:30 p.m. Sunday if he nearly dances when he joins with cellist Josh Aerie to present the free, 45-minute Facebook livestream mix they have labeled Bachpourri. Palermo says viewers might wish to have their dancing shoes ready.

"All of the movements that I will be playing are dance movements," said Palermo, also the longtime associate concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. "That will be very spirited, and hopefully it will give people a lot of joy. It’s very happy sounding."

That fits the musician himself, who regularly punctuates media interviews with ample laughter, though he takes music very seriously.

"This is all very uplifting," Palermo said. "It’s great to be able to play these. Actually, any of the Bach works I really very much revere — almost to the point that I am nearly afraid to play them in public."

The performance will include "Prelude from Suite 1 in G," "Allemande from Suite 3 in C," "Courante from Suite 6 in D," among others. Rachel Wilken, symphony board president, will provide a brief introduction for the pair who have been a duo in a live performance before as well. 

"It’s always wonderful playing with Phil," Aerie said. "He is such a consummate artist and generous person — and a great friend as well."

Because the two will each be trading off their individual movements — that’s an element that Aerie called quite unusual for a presentation — viewers will miss the literal harmony that they can create together. But Aerie is simply happy to see the local symphony players continue to give its audience an avenue to live music.

"Also, just as importantly, this keeps alive the overall mission of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra," Aerie said. 

He added that the recital holds an extra segment of enjoyment for him besides performing alongside Palermo.

"Part of it will be the fact that I will have time to sit back and relax and watch Phil," Aerie said. 

The humble Palermo himself said he thought two performers of Bach would be better for an audience than listening only to him.

"Actually," he said, "I thought this would be a great way to share the workload.

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Who: Cellist Josh Aerie and violinist Philip Palermo performing a variety of Johann Sebastian Bach movements they are labeling Bachpourri.

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Via the Facebook page for Columbus Symphony Orchestra of Indiana.