Author Archives: Robin McKee Williams

Carmel Bach Festival 2015 — Saint John Passion, 1725 Version

St. John Passion - image

As the Carmel Bach Festival presented Johann Sebastien Bach’s Saint John Passion on Sunday afternoon at Sunset Center, we witnessed from beginning to end a dramatic and convincing performance by the chorale, orchestra and soloists led by Paul Goodwin (with valuable assistance from Andrew Megill and John Koza).

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Archived in these categories: Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival, Choral, Orchestral


Endless Melody — George Friederich Handel at the Carmel Bach Festival

On Thursday, July 22, the Carmel Bach Festival presented at Sunset Center an evening of music devoted to George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). Under the direction of Andrew Arthur, the evening’s concert showcased superb instrumentalists and some fine ensemble playing by members of the Festival Orchestra.        

In addition to conducting the orchestra, Arthur also gave us some brilliant keyboard performances throughout the evening. In the opening work, the Concerto for Organ in G Minor, Op. 4, No.1, HWV 289, Arthur was masterful in melding the organ’s solos into the complex orchestral textures. His dual techniques of conducting and playing organ were visually impressive, and his two quite separate skills enhanced the performance of the concerto considerably. While sustaining long notes on the organ, Arthur guided the Festival Orchestra in synchronizing the “endless melodies” that were the theme of the program. A master of details, Arthur’s articulation was clear, his ornamentation stylish, and his phrasing delightful as he repeatedly linked musical phrases from organ to orchestra.

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Archived in these categories: Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival, Strings, Vocal


St. Matthew Passion – Carmel Bach Festival 2010

On Sunday afternoon we heard Bach’s, St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, directed by Maestro Bruno Weill in his farewell season with the Carmel Bach Festival at Sunset Center in Carmel. We heard many fine moments from the orchestra, chorale, youth chorale, and soloists — so many details were beautifully calculated by the Maestro to accentuate the dramatic and musical events of this great masterpiece. Bach’s use of texture, melody, chromaticism, harmony, dissonance, modalities, orchestration, double chorus and instrumental writing were precisely controlled in this performance, and the placement of tempi, phrasing and dynamics were communicated to each musician in a way that encouraged them to perform at their very best. That we have a Bach Festival at all is a testament to how people continue to be deeply moved by the intellectual and spiritual, stimulation his music inspires.

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Archived in these categories: Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival, Choral


Camerata Singers Performs Duruflé Requiem

The Camerata Singers directed by John Koza presented an evening of choral music at the First United Church in Pacific Grove on Saturday, May 15th. This included many centuries of singing from Ambrosian chant to the Duruflé Requiem.

The evening began with sacred works contrasting a 4th century Ambrosian chant Kyrie with a 20th  century Kyrie by Knut Nystedt. The entire program focused on the development of liturgical plainchant spanning more than sixteen centuries. The haunting melodies of both Kyries set the mood for the entire concert. The Camerata Singers sang with security, intelligence and feeling. Their phrasing was nicely coordinated to enhance the high points of each phrase. Suspensions and dissonances were finely controlled and final cadences had sensitivity and finality. This was a concert that was both musically and historically interesting.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Choral


Soprano Devon Guthrie – Vocal Competition Winner

On Friday evening, May 14, the Carmel Music Society presented soprano Devon Guthrie, the Grand Prize Winner of the Society’s 2009 Vocal Competition. Guthrie is a young soprano from New York whose training includes a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Master of Music degree from Juilliard, where she studied voice with Marlena Malas. Presenting a selection of songs spanning several centuries and languages, her lovely voice and fine vocal technique gave us an evening full of expressive and dramatic moments. It was exciting to hear a young singer who has the potential for a significant career. Guthrie was accompanied by pianist Nathan Brandwein who is presently a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow in Collaborative Piano at The Juilliard School, and he played brilliantly throughout the entire concert.  

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Archived in these categories: Carmel Music Society, Competition, Vocal