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David Portillo (Paraguay)

Ensemble: Sociedad Bach del Paraguay
Lives in: Asunción, Paraguay

„Bach’s music completes us as human beings. This is not a question of fashion, but of necessity.““

David Portillo

David Portillo is 38 years old and comes from a large family. His childhood was full of music. At home, his siblings sang Paraguayan folk songs with their parents in Spanish and in Guaraní, the original national language. David’s father played the guitar and taught his children early on. The first songs he remembers are two Guaraní folk songs: „Pacholí“ and „Che Burrito Lambaré“.

At the age of nine, he played his first gigs with his own band at school and later at folk festivals. David recorded his first record when he was 12.

A year later, he heard music by Johann Sebastian Bach for the first time. His neighbor, Diego Sanchez Haase, played it for him. The music touched him so much that he never let go of it from then on. It opened up new worlds for him. Diego Sanchez Haase recognized the boy’s talent and sent him to music school in Asunción, where he studied music. Today, David Portillo is one of Paraguay’s most successful singer-songwriters and a member of the „Sociedad Bach del Paraguay“, which Diego Sanchez Haase founded in 2008 and in which mainly young musicians sing and play.

„The music here connects me with my roots, with the traditions, the landscape and the people. It is something very big and special that nothing can replace. But Bach’s music connects me to another dimension and that’s what makes it so universal, because it’s about connecting people to something higher. The biggest difference for me is that the satisfaction I feel when I have finished singing Bach comes from deep within me. I don’t know exactly how to explain the great emotions that this music triggers in me. In no other area of life have I ever had such a comprehensive experience. I have found complete fulfilment in Bach’s music.“

David Portillo

Kazuko Nawata (Japan)

Ensemble: Soft Bach Society Yamaguchi
Lives in: Yamaguchi, Japan

„For me, Bach’s music is everything: when I’m very happy, I find reassurance in the music. When I’m down, the music lifts me up again. I find that incredibly beautiful and comforting.““

Kazuko Nawata

Kazuko Nawata, a 40-year-old Japanese woman who lives in Yamaguchi, devotes herself to art and music alongside her profession as a pharmacist. She is a soprano and regularly performs with her Bach ensemble in public places such as railway stations. Like many Japanese people, she loves cosplay and has clothes from Bach’s era, which she likes to wear during performances. She is also a passionate visual artist and paints large-format pictures in vibrant colors, which she also exhibits.

Thabang Modise (South Africa)

IT Technician
Ensemble: Johannesburg Bach Choir
Lives in: Johannesburg, South Africa

„I don’t know how to describe it, but I wanted the conductor to never stop. I didn’t know what was on the next page, but I wanted more of it. Once you’re infected with Bach, you just want to keep going.““

Thabang Modise

„Racial discrimination is the order of the day in South Africa. But Bach’s music has the power to overcome it.“

Thabang Modise, 35, lives in Johannesburg with his wife and one-year-old daughter and grew up in the Schweizer-Reneke township in the humblest of circumstances. 

Bach helped the IT technician to change his perspective. Before he came into contact with Bach and his music, Thabang was convinced that there was an insurmountable barrier between white and black people due to apartheid, slavery and the colonial era. Today he sees things differently: just as Bach’s voices interact and form a whole, so too can people come together – despite their differences and pasts.

„If we as Bach singers recognized that, despite all our differences, we have a certain relationship with each other, that we depend on each other in the smallest things, then we would treat each other better. Even if you don’t know the other person, there is something that connects you to them. If we find what we have in common, it will make the world a better place.“


Lee Hai Lin (Malaysia)

Architect and café owner
Ensemble: Bachfest Ensemble Malaysia, Wicked Music People
Lives in: Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia

„Bach is like the Beatles. It’s impossible not to love him. He is simply timeless. His music relates to life, to feelings. It’s something that people always need.““

Lee Hai Lin

Lee Hai Lin studied architecture in Australia and now owns two cafés in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, which she runs together with her husband. She is also passionate about early music, plays the violin and bought a harpsichord kit with a friend, which they spent months putting together for the „Wicked Music People“.

With the ensemble, she brings Bach and other early music to the Malaysian province. In this predominantly Muslim country, however, playing Bach can have serious consequences.

“In Malaysia, if you are caught playing Bach’s music as a Muslim, you can go to jail. But we keep going because we believe in it and because we believe that it is so beautiful that it is worth sharing.“

Lee Hai Lin

Jesse Gehman (USA)

Palliative Nurse
Ensemble: The Bach Choir of Bethlehem
Lives in: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (USA)

“I can have the worst day: when I sing Bach, it gives me wings. I always say that Bach is my therapy.“

Jesse Gehman

Jesse Gehman is 32 years old and has been singing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she really annoyed those around her. She never believed in it, but always dreamed of one day being able to sing in the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the oldest Bach choir in the USA. In Bach’s music, she finds the feeling that all people share something and are connected to each other. She also passes this feeling on to her patients, whom she often accompanies in their final and difficult hours.

Bianca Porcheddu (Australien)

„Academic Studies“ Coordinator, Teacher, Violinist and Concert Master
Ensemble: Canberra Bach Ensemble
Lives in: Canberra, Australia

After a devastating bush fire, Bach gave her hope:
„I looked round: Everything around us was burnt, all the trees were burnt. And the first thing I played was actually Bach. I suddenly felt so isolated. All the birds were gone, all the trees were gone. But playing gave me hope again.“

Bianca Porcheddu

Bianca Porcheddu lives with her husband in Canberra, has a son and is the daughter of Italian immigrants. After learning that in Hermannsburg, an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, missionaries taught Bach to the Aborigines 140 years ago and translated his hymns into their language, she travelled there and has been connected with the people ever since.

„Bach was an important part of my life from an early age. When I heard him for the first time, something about his music immediately attracted me: his artistry, his amazing ability to write beautiful yet simple melodies. And then he composes in such a complicated way, so mathematical and clever.“

„Sometimes there are moments when I ask myself: why am I doing this to myself? Playing even the simplest melody beautifully is sometimes really difficult. By playing and practicing Bach’s music over and over again, you develop empathy, emotional intelligence, maturity, resilience and concentration. That’s what I love about Bach.“


Annalisa Hartmann &
Désirée Scheidegger (Switzerland)

Annalisa Hartmann

Publishing employee, Author
Ensemble: Berner Bachchor
Lives in: Bern, Switzerland

Désirée Scheidegger

Teacher of German as a foreign and second language, Author
Ensemble: Berner Bachchor
Lives in: Bern, Switzerland

„In all the movement around me, Bach is what remains. It doesn’t change. I don’t know of any music that has replaced Bach. Bach still stands for himself, for Bach.“

Annalisa Hartmann

„In all the movement around me, Bach is what remains. It doesn’t change. I don’t know of any music that has replaced Bach. Bach still stands for himself, for Bach.“

Annalisa Hartmann, 34, lives with her two young sons in Bern. For three years, she shared her flat with an Eritrean refugee family. Although she has enough on her plate as a mother, author and publishing employee, she can’t imagine life without Bach. She sang in the St Matthew Passion for the first time at the age of five and has been closely connected to the composer since her childhood.

„What I’m looking for lies in the music of Bach. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. That is precisely the mystery.“

Annalisa Hartmann

Annalisa Hartmann & Désirée Scheidegger

Désirée Scheidegger is Annalisa’s twin sister. She loves travelling, feels at home in the world and is connected to many cultures. Bach has always been an emotional support for her. To spare her neighbors, she is often out and about with her cello and practices in public spaces, where she sang Bach with her sister as a child. Désirée works as a teacher at the Federal Asylum Centre in Bern.

“Singing Bach opens my eyes. I become much more open to what is happening around me. I can hear other voices that sense this community.“

Désirée Scheidegger

Living Bach · A film by Anna Schmidt · Germany 2023 · 114 Minutes · all ages admitted · Cinema release Nov 30th 2023
Distribution Weltkino. Distribution worldwide EuroArts.
Press Relations · WELTKINO FILMVERLEIH GMBH · Alexandra Dathe · (+49)-341-21 339 449 ·
schmidtfim · Anna Schmidt · Spinnereistraße 7 · 04179 Leipzig · (+49)- 341-99 39 057 · ·

Living Bach
A film by Anna Schmidt
Germany 2023
Length: 114 Minutes

Press Relations

Alexandra Dathe
+49 - 341-21 339 449