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It’s often forgotten that Johann Sebastian Bach didn’t become a famous composer until nearly a century after his death. He wasn’t a total nobody while alive like, say, Charles Ives, an insurance salesman turned posthumous genius. But in his day, he was J.S. Bach, famous church organist. The works he composed for the instrument, while seminal, aren’t as widely performed today as are his vocal cantatas and string concertos because, well, who besides churches has an organ lying around? The deeply devout Lutheran probably would have preferred a house of worship over a concert hall as a venue for his music, which is what has made Georgetown’s Grace Church a fitting host of the Bach Festival for 19 years running. Tonight’s opening concert includes Bach’s fourth cello suite and his silly “Coffee Cantata” performed by a trio of singers. And, of course, there will be plenty of organ.
The festival runs today through July 6 at Grace Church, 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20 suggested donation per concert. gracedc.org. (202) 333-7100.