Island Symphony Orchestra brings the music of Bach to Bay Shore


People from across the island headed to Bay Shore’s St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church to listen to the sounds of Bach and other revered composers played by the Island Symphony Orchestra.

Made up of amateur musicians, experienced players and retired music teachers, the Island Symphony Orchestra is a nonprofit, island-wide orchestra with members ranging in age.

Originally founded in 1971, it now has approximately 60 members who all share their love of music with community through performance. This year, the Third Annual Bach Festival kept a newer tradition going.

Susan Barbash, vice president of the symphony’s board of trustees and a cellist in the orchestra, said that since 2020, the annual Bach Fest focuses on the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, along with others, and also gives the opportunity to present the winner of the international Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition.

This year bassist Nina Bernat, 22, was the grand-prize winner and she headlined the festival.

Barbash said that having a double bassist is special when it comes to the musical stylings of Bach.

“It’s difficult to play these pieces on a bass,” she said. “It’s not written for a bass and few bassists have the technique to do it.”

During the Bach Fest, Bernat, who is studying at Juilliard and is planning to graduate this year, not only headlined, but also performed as a soloist during the show.

“The audience was excited about Bach and that was really nice to seen,” Bernat said.

Conducted by Eric Stewart, the symphony will present two more concerts later this year in the spring.

“It was so exciting,” Barbash said.