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


35th Annual Virginia Best Adams Masterclass

Nola Richardson & David Newman

With only a few days away from opening night at the 2019 Carmel Bach Festival, we had an opportunity yesterday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church in Carmel to observe the first in the series of the Virginia Best Adams Masterclasses. As in previous years, it was a moving experience to hear four exciting young singers in the early stages of their careers. Presiding master class teacher David Newman, addressing the singers seated in the first row, informed them, “A few decades ago I was siting where you are now as a young Virginia Best Adams Fellow.”

During the twenty years that Franz Liszt was resident in Weimar, he remarked to a friend that as he walked the cobbled streets of Weimar he often felt the presence of Johann Sebastian Bach. Today, as spectators to the latest round of Virginia Best Adams Fellows, we felt the presence of David Gordon, whose absence this year invokes many memories of his guiding spirit over three decades that helped elevate the Adams Masterclasses to the status they enjoy today.

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Archived in these categories: Baroque, Master class, Vocal


Monterey Peninsula Voices


Sean Boulware

The audience trickled in to the hustle and bustle of the dynamite combo warming up for the Monterey Peninsula Voices program on Sunday, May 12, at the Santa Catalina High School auditorium. Under the direction of Dr. Sean Boulware, just the warm up was an exciting predictor of what was to come. These 100+ voices in their terrific themed tee shirts showed unflagging enthusiasm and delight to be part of this group. As a Road Trip theme might be imagined, Boulware has chosen a wealth of location songs stretching from I Left My Heart in San Franciscoto Boy From New York City with stops in between along Route 66. John Lett and Robin Jepsen soloed more than ably in Tuxedo Junction. As with many of these familiar songs the recording artist who made it famous is often more remembered than the actual composer. Erskine Hawkins wrote this piece made popular by numerous big bands as well as soloists. Hard to imagine Lynard Skynard being responsible for Sweet Home Alabama, but with the killer guitar work of Noah Reeves, the singers brought it home. Another popular song, Georgia On My Mind, is mostly remembered for the Ray Charles version. Phil Price not only soloed, but also provided his own guitar accompaniment. Next up, the tenors and basses gave a hearty treatment of Westward Ho! from the 1935 film of the same name. Actually moving eastward, Diane Ehlers gave Glen Campbell a run for his money with her version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix supported with a prerecorded backup.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Choral, Vocal


Ensemble Monterey — The King Shall Rejoice

Director John Anderson

The Season Finale of Ensemble Monterey was a wonderful collection of regal music. The title for this concert is taken from the last piece offered: Handel’s Coronation Anthem. Included in the program material was a graphic featuring “The Fab Five.” This refers to 5 composers who wrote mostly in the 18thCentury with one work from the 17thCentury. I attended the Saturday evening concert on April 27, 2019 at the First Presbyterian Church in Monterey, CA. The day was a lovely Spring day, so the room grew warm as the evening progressed. Still, I thank the church for opening their doors and sharing the good acoustics of their space.

As is the custom of Ensemble Monterey, Conductor and Artistic Director Dr. John Anderson offered his insights prior to the concert as a short talk with question/answer session. This opportunity to learn about the music and performers is so vital. Dr. Anderson has a gift for conveying information that engages those literate in music while being accessible to those just beginning their musical journey. It makes concerts more enjoyable when the audience is as attentive and engaged as they were Saturday. These talks along with the excellent printed program are gems we should encourage and take advantage of regularly. 

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Archived in these categories: Baroque, Chamber music, Choral, Vocal, Vocal ensemble


Schubertiade in Santa Cruz

To conclude its 34thseason, Distinguished Artists Concert and lecture Series founder, impresario and pianist John Orlando offered classical music lovers an unusual program: a 21stcentury “SCHUBERTIADE” at Peace united Church in Santa Cruz on Saturday evening March 16. Schubert, arguably the greatest songwriter of all time, wrote more than 600 songs that came to light throughout the 19thcentury in manuscripts left mostly at the homes of the original “Schubertiade” spontaneous evening gatherings hosted by several of this composer’s friends.

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Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era, Vocal