Members of the Argus String Quartet play a Brown Bag Concert at the State Office Building on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, during the annual Juneau Jazz & Classics Festival. COVID-19 forced the festival online in 2020, but organizers are looking forward to a hybrid festival in May. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire File)

Live classical music will fill the air and airways in May

Juneau Jazz & Classics Festival will resume in a hybrid format

Live classical music will soon return to Juneau in a big way.

Next month, the popular Juneau Jazz & Classics Festival will resume in a new hybrid format.

After COVID-19 forced last year’s festival online, the group is scheduling live and virtual concerts between May 24 and 30.

According to Sandy Fortier, executive director at Juneau Jazz & Classics, indoor and outdoor concerts will take place at Chapel by the Lake in Auke Bay and several pop-up concerts will occur across town. In addition, virtual concerts will expand the festival’s reach.

Grammy Award-winning Cellist Zuill Bailey, who serves as the artistic director for the festival, will perform along with Midori, a leading concert violinist and one of the five recipients of the 2020 Kennedy Center Honors.

Fortier said that Bailey will play the full Bach Suite over two days in a series of concerts, and Midori will do a virtual recital and a Q & A.

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In a phone interview last week, Fortier said Bailey had recently taken over as the festival’s artistic director.

“When he comes here, he wants to immerse himself into the community. He likes to bring music to people. He likes to share healing and uplifting music,” she said.

Bailey said that he has a waterproof carbon fiber cello, which allows him to perform outside in the rain.

“We will be playing inside and outside,” Bailey said while performing at the City and Borough of Juneau’s vaccine clinic last weekend during a quick planning trip to town.

Bailey said he is happy to see live concert performances resume. But, he thinks the virtual component is still important.

“The virtual aspect can be a lightning rod to reach more people,” he said. “We should hold onto that.”

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Juneau Jazz & Classics has a long history in Alaska’s capital city.

“For the past 35 years, Juneau Jazz & Classics has provided high-quality performances from professional musicians from around the country, educational concerts, instructional workshops, and community engagement programs that benefit people of all ages, capabilities and economic backgrounds,” according to the organization’s website.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891.

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