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Organ music virtually returns to Merrill

James Kennerley will be performing "Back with Bach" on the Kotzschmar organ on Saturday; a free livestream.

PORTLAND, Maine — There is music once again inside Merrill Auditorium, even if visitors aren't yet returning. Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ are bringing Portland municipal organist, James Kennerley back to the stage for a live-streamed concert they're calling "Back with Bach."

The event is free, but tickets need to be reserved in advance of Saturday's concert. "It’s all about bringing the music of Bach and live music back to Portland and back to Merrill; and because we are live streaming, back to the world," says Kennerley. "It’s going to be the first time we’ve had a live performance here since March so we’ve been dusting off the cobwebs and we are really looking forward to having the building sort of sing with music."

Kennerley is based in Boston; so coming to Maine to prepare for the concert meant quarantining and getting a COVID-19 test, which he was happy to do to be reunited with the Kotzschmar. "This organ was a gift to the city of Portland and so we just want to give back to our patrons and also to find new people who might not come to a concert because they don’t want to go to a concert hall or they don’t want to pay for a ticket," Kennerley says about the free show. "We thought this was a really nice way to reach out to these people and thank them and welcome them, all that good stuff."

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Kennerley is also preparing for the upcoming holiday season. He'll be improvising his own score to the film, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," which will be played at the Saco Drive-In, and available as a digital download. 

Kennerley will also be back behind the organ for his annual Christmas show, which will also be live streamed, and available to download and watch from the comfort of home. "It's one of the silver linings of this pandemic; we can’t be in person to hear these events live, but because we are doing them as digital downloads people can watch them from anywhere in the world," says Kennerley.

To learn more about the upcoming concerts, click here

RELATED: Kotzschmar: Beauty in the playing but a beast in the saying