Organist Tiffany Bedner
So often I feel incredibly fortunate to live on the Monterey Peninsula. Not only for its physical beauty, but also for its creative and artistic energy. On Friday night I attended the MPC String Ensemble concert conducted by David Dally at the Carmel Mission Basilica, and not surprisingly, the Carmel Mission’s beautiful ambiance significantly enhanced the music we were hearing. The program began with an organ and string setting of Bach’s famous D minor Toccata and Fugue, BWV 565. I had never heard it before in its arrangement for strings and organ, and this performance turned out to be powerful and compelling. The featured organist was Tiffany Bedner, the regular organist at the Mission. Her playing was clean and elegant, with the strings complimenting her sound. Together they gave us a very satisfying performance of this great work.
Next on the program was a tribute to the late Don Roseff, a distinguished bassist, who unexpectedly passed away on February 10th. It was a lovely arrangement for strings of “Simple Gifts” by Matthew Naughtin. After a beginning melody, it featured the bass section prominently and was a wonderful tribute to a well loved colleague. Prior to the performance we heard a reading of the text to “Simple Gifts.” It was a great poetic tribute, indeed. After the tribute the Mission Choir sang four works that made me want to attend their 11:00 am Service. This choir was beautifully conducted by Laura Anderson, who also conducted the strings as they accompanied the choir. It was all contemporary music, but not at all difficult to listen to, for there was none of the blatant dissonances sometimes associated with contemporary music. The sopranos soared, as did the tenors, and all four parts blended to perfection Their singing was, according to the woman seated next to me, a “little bit of heaven.” The first piece was by John Ness Beck, who died in 1987, and whose compositions are widely known for their beauty. The next three pieces were by Dan Forest, a living composer, who also has given us some beautiful music
After intermission organist Tiffany Bedner was the soloist in the Concerto for Organ and Strings in G Minor, FP93, by Poulenc. This was an impressive tour de force, both for the soloist and the ensemble. It began with declarative chords for the organ, followed by twenty minutes of music that never failed to hold our attention. The tympani player was outstanding and also played a variety of percussion instruments as well as drums. Parts of this great evening of music were sad and pensive, whereas other parts were bold and uplifting. The audience loved Bedner’s organ playing and were charmed by the performance of the string ensemble. It was a sublime twenty minutes. The final section of the program consisted of four arias featuring soprano Laura Anderson. We were impressed with her huge gorgeous sound and her expressive shaping of phrases, from the softest to the loudest dynamics. Before each of her arias, she gave us the context of what she was singing and why. Not only did I love hearing the familiar O mio babbino caro from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, but also found her sensitive rendition of Verdi’s Ave Maria to be very moving. It is a prayer for protection, but one that is not granted, for she is killed by her husband Othello. Also a person who dies tragically is Madame Butterfly. Anderson sang a wonderful rendition of Un bel dì vedremo, which is a song of hope.It ended the evening in such a lovely way.
Congratulations to David Dally, the string players, the Mission Choir and the soloists for presenting such an inspiring evening. My thanks to these musicians for their diligence and hard work. I am so glad I live here! Bravo.