Bach Around the Clock

by Molly Gilmore for OLY ARTS

March 21 is the 332nd birthday of composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and Olympia organist Curt Sather will spend the day—the whole day—celebrating. Sather, the music director at St. John’s Episcopal Church, will play all of the composer’s organ works—nearly 300—in a 24-hour marathon performance he’s calling Bach Around the Clock. “It’s fantastic and a little bit daft and really exciting,” said Rev. Robert C. Laird, the church’s rector.

Perhaps the most surprising part is that Sather has done it before, 11 years ago at Saint Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he served as organist before moving to Olympia a year and a half ago. “I thought I would never do that again,” he admitted in an interview last week. He was inspired to commit himself to another prolonged performance by both his passion for the church’s 1967 Schlicker organ and his desire to raise $30,000 to complete the installation of the 3,800-pipe instrument, formerly installed at Seattle’s Plymouth Congregational Church. “I’ve already raised close to half of that,” he said.

Sather hopes the length of the concert will allow more people to enjoy the beauty of Bach’s compositions. “If I play a recital at noon, people say, ‘I can’t come because I’m working,’” he said. “If I play in the evening, they can’t come because of who knows what else. This gives an opportunity for everyone to come sometime during the 24-hour period.” Audience members are welcome to bring lunch or dinner, art supplies, cameras to capture the changing light through the sanctuary’s stained-glass windows, even blankets. There’ll be refreshments for sale, too. And those who can’t be there can listen in: The concert will be streamed live at

What: Bach Around the Clock

Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church,
114 20th Ave. SE, Olympia

When: all day Tuesday, March 21

How much: free (donations accepted)

Learn more: 360-352-8527 | Bach Around the Clock

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