Concert to be dedicated to Gerry Smith

It is with great sadness we announce the sudden passing of Gerry Smith. This concert will go ahead, with Canadian fiddling champion Shane Cook and the Bach Festival, dedicating this performance to Gerry and his family. 

Gerry Smith & His Legacy: When Shane was approached about coming to Exeter, he said that he had never performed here before, and would be delighted to come.  In the first meeting to discuss Shane coming to Exeter, a wonderful human interest story came to light. Shane enquired if Fagan knew of Gerry Smith, a former champion fiddler living in Exeter.  Shane talked glowingly of Gerry’s accomplishments, and told the story that as a young boy, Shane’s father purchased Shane’s first full sized violin from Gerry, and a lifelong friendship developed.  Gerry had already been approached to perform in the Festival, and upon hearing this, Shane ecstatically enquired of the possibility of the two friends team up to perform together!!!    Sponsored by Crabby Joe’s Restaurant, this featured performance this coming July promises to be one of great musicianship and respect for one champion to another.

Canadian Shane Cook rates at the top of the short list of the finest fiddlers in the world today” says the Canadian Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame.

Shane has distinguished himself as a leading exponent of the Canadian old-time fiddle tradition as well as a multi-instrumentalist who holds a deep mastery of musical styles ranging from Irish and Scottish to French-Canadian, Texan, and Bluegrass. After a concert at The Opera House in Boston, the Boston Herald proclaimed “Shane Cook’s Celtic fiddling was enough to break hearts.”

In 2006, Shane retired from competitive fiddling as one of Canada’s most highly awarded fiddlers. He is a three-time Canadian Open National Champion, a three-time Canadian Grand Masters Champion, a Grand North American Champion, and is the only foreign fiddler to win the US Grand National Championship, a feat he accomplished at just 17 years of age.

Shane’s most recent recognition came in 2012 when he received a CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award as well as a Young Tradition Bearer Award, granted by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival for his dedication and contribution to traditional and roots music in Canada.


Our Home and Native Land!

Bach Festival 2017 Season Announcement

Artistic Director Gerald Fagan, O Ont, OC

A summer celebrating Canadian talent from at home and abroad.

The Bach Music Festival of Canada is excited to announce its stellar line-up of artists, concerts, and programs for the 2017 Summer Season! Back after its 3rd successful season in 2015, the Festival continues to build on its relationships with Canada’s most renowned and respected artists while cultivating roots in the heart of Huron County, Ontario.

The Thursday July 6th Opening concert features legendary Broadway and Concert/Opera star, baritone John Avey in concert with the incomparable pianist Marlene Fagan, presenting ‘Just Between Friends’. Avey & Fagan are a fitting launch for the 2017 season, as their partnership embodies the friendship, artistry and community spirit for which the Bach Festival has become known.

Lara St John and Matt Herskowitz return after launching the inaugural Festival in 2011, bringing International star status with a rare intimate appearance Sunday July 9th in an afternoon concert that is sure to sell-out. Artistic Director Gerald Fagan states, “it is a rare honour to have Ms. St John and Mr. Herskowitz return to the Bach Festival for a 2nd performance! This speaks to their love of performing in their home country, and to this community’s signature style of warmly appreciating the artists who perform in Exeter.”

Other Guest Artists include the extraordinary Spanish pianist Leopoldo Erice; cellist Cameron Crozman playing on the Bonjour Stradivarius Cello and the Shaw Adam cello bow generously on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts Instrumetn Bank; World Champion fiddling sensation Shane Cook with master fiddler Gerry Smith; and the Bach Festival resident chamber choir Chor Amica under the direction of Artistic Director Gerald Fagan. A Summer Youth Arts program ensures the tradition of arts education continues!

The Sunday July 16th Closing Gala presentation ‘Our Home and Native Land’, features soloists, orchestra, the Junior Amabile Youth Singers and a mass choir equaling over 150 performers in total with Artistic Director Gerald Fagan conducting and Canadian culture afficianado James Reaney Jr, hosting. Performing traditional Canadian music as well as four newly commissioned works specifically for Canada’s birthday, this afternoon performance promises to be the most memorable birthday celebration for our great country! This final gala concert will take place at the South Huron Rec Centre, as we transform this space into a concert hall – truly in the heart of the community.

Bach Music Festival of Canada

July 6 – 16, 2017

Exeter Ontario Canada

Our Home & Native Land

Our 2017 brochure is attached! Full details about the Bach Music Festival of Canada are found on our website  And you can always join us on Face book.

Photos, Interviews and Quotes available by contacting the Festival at 519 235-2622 or by email at

Standing Ovation & Capacity Crowd Open the Festival!

The Fourth Bach Music Festival of Canada is officially opened – and what an opening night it was!

John Avey & Marlene Fagan delighted the full house with gorgeous renditions of show favourites. Warmth, humour, friendship and memories set the tone for the Festival concerts yet to come.

It’s going to be a fabulous weekend of concerts with Leopoldo Erice, Spanish pianist, on tap tonight. For full information check out our website, Facebook or call our Box Office at 519 235 2622.

Here’s What You’ve Been Waiting For!


Artistic Director Gerald Fagan, and the Board of the Bach Festival are happy to announce that preparations for the Bach Festival 2017 are progressing rapidly to provide South Huron and the rest of Ontario with a great new concept for this coming July!!!   Scheduled from July 6 to 16, the Festival is being labelled OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND, profiling an all-star cast of some of this Province’s finest musicians.

The Festival is proud to announce a great mix of outstanding talent (including fine local musicians).  Some of the leading talents include the return of virtuoso pianist Leopold Erice, a first time appearance in South Huron of world champion fiddler Shane Cook (performing with Exeter legend Jerry Smith), and world class cellist Cameron Crozman (flying in from Paris France with his 12 million dollar Stradivarius cello). The Grand Opening performance will feature baritone John Avey (Metropolitan Opera) with the legendary pianist Marlene Fagan….  again delighting audiences with popular Broadway music of the 60s and 70s.

The Gala Closing performance (Sunday afternoon July 16) will be a blockbuster performance featuring over 200 musicians.  Four icon solo singers;  Leslie Fagan (soprano),   Anita Krause (alto),  Colin Ainsworth (tenor), and John Avey (bass);  will headline the Festival Massed Choir (with core choirs  CHOR AMICA of London,  the South Huron Choir, “that other choir”,  and choristers representing over 25 choral groups from across Ontario.  All of these singers will perform with the outstanding Festival Symphony Orchestra (Concert Master Sig Martin of Grand Bend).  The Gala Closing performance is a departure from the past in every way.  Four new Canadian songs will have their first performance during the concert, as four Ontario composers have been commissioned to write new material;   all of which will be heard for the first time at the Gala.

Local musicians continue to have a prominence in July. Jeff Smallman (Hensall)  is one of the commissioned composers;   Jerry Smith (former Fiddling Champion)  is performing with Shane Cook;   Dr. Richard Heinzle (Organist at Trivitt Anglican Church) is giving an organ recital;  and The South Huron Choir is a core group  in the Gala closing ceremonies.    Coming soon to the Times Advocate will be the announcement of the names of local youth taking part ……a great feature at the last three Bach Festivals.

So keep those dates (July 6 to 16) set aside for listening to great music as Exeter opens its doors to the fourth exciting edition of the Bach Festival!!

Thank you from Gerald Fagan

Bach Festival Artistic Director Thanks Community!

In two weeks time, my wife Marlene and I travel to Ottawa for the ceremony whereby I receive the Order of Canada. Although I am proud of this achievement, at the same time I am very humble at being chosen. One realizes early in life, that one’s achievements are because of the kindness of many people met along the way. It is with this knowledge, that I thank the numerous people from Exeter and South Huron who were front and centre in offering my name for consideration to the Governor General. I will never know exactly who you were, but I do know that it was because of your actions that we are travelling to Ottawa soon.

When Friedhelm Hoffmann, the Chairman of the Board, and I thought of the Bach Festival situating in Exeter, we were met with much skepticism from sources outside the area. For the last seven years, the efforts of countless performers, politicians, donors, businesses and volunteers have made it possible to make The Bach Music Festival of Canada a reality. The number of folk is in the hundreds, if not thousands who have either participated or attended performances . This I did not accomplish; it was the efforts of good people working together which made the Festival so successful.

So now , the hard working Board of Directors is gearing up for Festival 2017, which we have named “OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND”. This July we will present an all Canadian cast of performers (including many world class musicians, and great local artists). As the weeks go by, exciting news of singers and players coming to South Huron will be publicized. It promises to be a thrilling time in July as we celebrate Canada and Ontario’s Anniversary.

Thank you all for the kindness shown to me and my family in the time spent in South Huron…..these are memories never forgotten.

Gerald Fagan C.M., O.Ont.

Artistic Director,

The Bach Music Festival of Canada

We’re Looking For ‘Bachers’

Our Volunteers are busy contacting our ‘Bachers’ for the 2017 Festival.

We present World Class Artists during our Festival for the benefit of

all our Patrons. ‘Bach’ us in this effort to bring Excellence in the 

Performing Arts to South Huron and become a sponsor,

or donor, or volunteer to give ‘Bach’ to the community.


A Unique Handel’s Messiah

Get yourself in the Christmas Spirit on Saturday, November 19th, 7:30 p.m. at Oakridge Presbyterian Church, 970 Oxford St. West in London. Please join us to sing the Hallelujah Chorushandels-messiah-nov-19-2016!

Gerald Fagan Receives Order of Canada

Exeter Times-Advocate

EXETER – The co-founder of the Bach Music Festival of Canada recently received the highest honour a civilian can achieve in Canada.

Gerald Fagan was named a Member of the Order of Canada in July. In a press release, the Bach Music Festival said the recognition is for Fagan’s “over half a century of music performances across Canada, and his dedication to choral art internationally.”

Fagan co-founded the Bach Music Festival of Canada, based in South Huron, in 2011, and has served as the festival’s volunteer artistic director since. He told the Times-Advocate recently that he was both very humbled and very happy to be made a Member of the Order of Canada. Fagan was quick to credit the people he has worked with over the years, explaining that you don’t receive accolades unless people help you along the way.

The Order of Canada is the latest of many honours Fagan has received during his career, including being made a recipient of the Order of Ontario in 2011 and the Citizen of the Year in London in 1994. During his career, Fagan was artistic director of Fanshawe Chorus London, the Gerald Fagan Singers and the Concert Player Orchestra. He also founded the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, twice conducting the Ontario Youth Choir and directing provincial choirs in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario, as well as conducting choirs from around the world.

He was twice awarded the Ontario Lieutenant-Governor’s Award and has toured internationally.

He said he felt “extreme elation” over his most recent honour.

“It’s beyond comprehension, really,” he told the T-A.

He said that when festival co-founder Friedhelm Hoffmann first spoke to him around 2010 about starting up the Bach Festival, people said it was impossible because nothing like it had ever been done before in the area, but that made Fagan and Hoffmann even more determined. Fagan said Exeter was seen as a good choice to base the festival out of because of its location in the middle of some of the most productive agricultural land in Canada, its proximity to the busy Lake Huron beachfront and its closeness to about 1.5 million people in London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Stratford, Goderich and Sarnia.

More importantly, Fagan said, South Huron has an incredible mix of talented people. He said when the festival’s board of directors first met, there was excitement immediately.

The festival is held every other summer in South Huron, and its fourth will be held next summer. Over the years, it has evolved as it has learned what audiences enjoy. It now incorporates classical, jazz and country music, as well as holding a major youth program.

Fagan said one of the reasons for the festival’s success is the local support, including from South Huron council and Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, the latter which helped get the festival started with monetary support and continues to allow the festival to hold its performances at the church.

“Without Trivitt and South Huron council, we never could have started,” Fagan said, adding Mayor Maureen Cole, Deputy Mayor David Frayne and Coun. Wayne DeLuca have been great supporters.

He also credited the festival’s board of directors, local businesses and volunteers, as well as festival manager Jean Jacobe, who co-ordinates it all.

Fagan and the Bach Festival are already busily working towards the next festival, to be held in the summer of 2017, and changes are afoot — unlike past festivals, which were a week-long, next year’s will be held over two, four-day weekends on the first two weekends in July.

Fagan said the reason for switching to consecutive long weekends (Thursday to Sunday) is that the Bach Festival discovered that mid-week concerts are difficult for out-of-towners to attend because of the driving involved.

In addition, to mark Canada’s 150th birthday next summer, the Bach Festival will celebrate Canada, and all the performers will be from Canada, with most of them from Ontario. The closing gala performance will be called “Our Home and Native Land,” and the festival has commissioned six Canadian composers (including Hensall’s Jeff Smallman) to each write five minutes of music. The pieces will each be separated by a “prominent” narrator, Fagan said. The show will be scored for 200 minutes and will include a mass choir, symphony orchestra, children’s choir and four internationally known Canadian soloists.

In addition, Fagan said the festival will feature the Chor Amica and The Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra, while he hopes to see the popular Youth Arts Program expanded.