Carmel Bach Festival 2019: Guitar Hero

Jason Vieaux

            During a Festival, you immerse yourself. While you would expect Bach compositions to dominate at the Carmel Bach Festival, we actually get to enjoy so much more. The music offered for our listening is always in some way connected to Bach. Often, the best way to figure out the connection is by attending the pre-concert talk and reading the program notes. Musicologists who offer these viewpoints are often as entertaining and enlightening as the music itself. In the case of “Guitar Hero,” the main concert for Friday, July 19, 2019, the program selections initially seemed distant from Bach, but the pre-concert talk and program notes pulled it together for me and I felt more prepared as I settled into my seat. 

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Carmel Bach Festival, Classical Era, Orchestral, Romantic Era

Carmel Bach Festival — Bach & Shakespeare

Carmel has inspired many people. Over the decades, stretching as far back as early 20th Century, creative people have thrived in this small town by the sea. On Sunday, July 14, 2019, day two of the 82nd Carmel Bach Festival, we enjoyed a glimpse of what Carmel has inspired in Maestro Paul Goodwin. Every conductor and director has a vision with much joy to share. Attending live performances seems the only way to understand and receive that joy and vision. At first blush, one wonders how Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, by Johann Sebastian Bach is related to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Incidental Music, Op 61 by Felix Mendelssohn. Andrew Oster gave us some insight with his pre-concert lecture. His well-presented thoughts with recorded excerpts made it easier to enjoy the afternoon’s concert. I’ve decided to let the musicologists discuss the connection. It is enough for me to honor Felix Mendelssohn for his work in reviving Bach’s music.

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

Carmel Bach Festival 2019 — Opening Night at Sunset Center

Dashon Burton, Mhairi Lawson, Paul Goodwin & Thomas Cooley

The weather outside was cool and foggy, but the ambient feeling of heightened anticipation was considerably warmer as those arriving to attend the opening night of Carmel Bach Festival 2019 were offered complimentary wine, treated to a free pre-concert lecture by Karen Hiles and invited to mingle in the courtyard and terraces of Sunset Center to enjoy the traditional “Tower Music” that has been a much-enjoyed and festive pre-concert event for so many years.

Although the Carmel Bach Festival may have teased us with three pre-festival events earlier in the week: two vocal master class open sessions at First Presbyterian Church, a chamber concert at St. Dunstan’s and an annual gala dinner at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, the Carmel Bach Festival 2019 officially opened Saturday night at Sunset Center with a performance of Haydn’s great masterpiece, “The Creation.”

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

Fulfilling Mahler’s Ninth at the San Francisco Symphony

Gustav Mahler

Michael Tilson Thomas’ final concert this past Saturday for the SF Symphony’s 2018-19 season featured Mahler’s last full symphony, the Ninth. It was a noteworthy moment and an extraordinary experience from start to finish. MTT’s final season with the SFS after a 25-year tenure as innovative director will start this coming September and conclude next June, but it seems as though loyal symphony-goers and fans had already started saying their long goodbyes in 2017, as soon as the conductor’s decision was announced publicly. In addition, MTT took a medical leave promptly after this last Sunday matinee performance in order to undertake a cardiac procedure. 

Mahler Ninth’s association with irregular heartbeats — especially Bernstein’s hypothesis that the hesitant rhythmic motif that starts and ends the symphony is a direct transcription of Mahler’s own heart condition — has been longstanding. While Mahler’s inward compositional intentions will, as ever, remain clouded by history — and, therefore, produce all sorts of equally plausible hypotheses — it is not fit to conflate myth with news and to romanticize MTT’s genuine health concern as so many one-liners and headers to sensational news have done for the past few weeks. 

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Archived in these categories: Orchestral

Music of Jubilation: Symphony Silicon Valley Finale

Tatsuya Shimono

Conductor Tatsuya Shimono led the 2018-19 season finale of Symphony Silicon Valley on Saturday, June 1, at the California Theatre. The program featured choral music by Dvorak and Beethoven, featuring guest soloists and the gifted Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale, whose Music Director is Elena Sharkova. Besides the rarely performed 1891Te Deum of Antonin Dvorak, the powerful draw came in the form of Beethoven’s mighty 1824 Ninth Symphony, the “Choral.” Among the pedestals of Western Music, this last symphony of Beethoven casts a perpetual spell over performers and auditors alike, compelling us to examine the very foundations of the musical art.

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Archived in these categories: Choral, Classical Era, Orchestral, Romantic Era