Friday, May 30, 2008

A wintry weekend on Mount Palomar

It was indeed a dark and stormy night as early musicians inched their way up South Grade Road towards the Mount Palomar sixth-grade camp last Friday. Rain, sleet and swirling fog made driving a challenge - and we were all relieved that everyone arrived without mishap.
Despite the fact that enrollment was slightly down this year, classes and activities were as enjoyable as ever. Our two new faculty members, viol players Rebekah Ahrendt and John Mark Rozendaal, were well received, and we welcomed return visits from Mark Davenport, Inga Funck, and of course Janet Beazley. Steve made T-shirts and tote bags which were eagerly snapped up, musical instruments changed hands, and CDs and sheet music were offered for sale.
The Grand Consort and Third Annual Crumhorn Conclave were the highlights of Saturday evening, and we were treated to a wonderful faculty concert on Sunday. But of course, every workshop has its little vignettes which stay in the mind long after the event is over - mine will be the sound of Laury Flora standing outside playing "reveille" on the cornetto at 7:30 on Sunday morning . . .
I was interested but not particularly surprised to discover on my return to San Diego that the temperatures for that weekend were some of the coldest ever recorded in May. I think we all experienced a new-found appreciation for the fact that the cabins are warm, hot water for showers is plentiful and hot beverages are in constant supply!
Next year, the workshop will revert to the weekend prior to Memorial Day (May 15-17). The theme will be the music of Spain and Portugal - and you are advised to bring shorts, sunglasses and mosquito repellent . . .

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

J.S. Bach - B minor Mass June 8-9

Bach Collegium San Diego Presents

Sunday 8 June 2008 at 4pm
Monday 9 June 2008 at 7pm
St James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church
743 Prospect Street, La Jolla 92037

Bach's monumental setting of the Latin Ordinary comes to life in the hands of conductor Ruben Valenzuela as he conducts the Bach Collegium San Diego and soloists in San Diegoss debut period instrument performance.

Patron: $60 (Reserved seating)
General: $35 (Non-reserved seating)
Student: $25

Ruben Valenzuela, conductor
Pierre Joubert, leader

Anne-Marie Dicce, soprano
Angela Young Smucker, alto
Vladimir Maric, tenor
John Polhamus, bass

Advance Tickets or Information: (619) 341-1726
Reserved:$60 General:$35 Student:$25
Children under 12: $12

Note: Discussing the B minor Mass: An Overview
Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 6pm (Following Evensong at 5pm)
St Peter's Episcopal Church (Parish Hall)
334 14th Street, Del Mar 92014

An informative discussion provided by music director Ruben Valenzuela in which he discusses the genesis, transmission, and reception of the B minor Mass, in addition to implications for performance practice.

Bach Collegium San Diego
P.O. Box 33754
San Diego, CA 92163 USA

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Courtly Noyse: Sunday, May 18th

The San Diego Early Music Society and the San Diego Museum of Art jointly present the “Old Masters” series highlighting local performers of early music. The concerts take place every other month on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m., upstairs in the Hibben Gallery in the Museum in Balboa Park. Admission to the Museum also admits you to the concerts.

May 18, 2008 - 2pm

Courtly Noyse will present a program of vocal and instrumental music of the Renaissance. Instruments may include recorder, viola da gamba, lute, harp, crumhorn, and psaltery. Members are Penelope Hawkins, Laury Flora, John Cassaboom, Vickie Jenkins, Jay Sachs, and Sandra Stram.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Scintillating Sounds

Local harpsichordist Takae Ohnishi treated SDEMS members to a positively scintillating performance at the season-end house concert, held in the home of a SDEMS patron. Ohnishi graduated from the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, and holds a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. She is currently Lecturer of Harpsichord at UCSD.

She opened the program with a nice pairing of two works by Johann Jakob Froberger: a Toccata in C major, followed by the Tombeau fait a Paris sur la mort de Monsieur Blancrocher. Ms. Ohnishi demonstrated nice control of articulation in the Toccata, a fine example of Froberger's progressive harmonic language. The Tombeau is arguably one of Froberger's most performed pieces, and deservedly so: this composition speaks a romantic language not heard for another two hundred years. Ms. Ohnishi played it with the abandon the composer directs, choosing to repeat the final section, saving the dramatic "fall" for the conclusion.

Ms. Ohnishi then collected four pieces from Jean-Philippe Rameau's Nouvelles Suites de Pi├Ęces de Clavecin (ca. 1728) into a nice suite in A minor. Opening with an Allemande, taken at a very slow temp, the Courante and Sarabande built momentum to the concluding show piece, Les Trois Mains. Ms. Ohnishi played with a singing tone and a nice grasp for the poetry of the music.

Scarlatti sonatas are often used to demonstrate a harpsichordist's technical mastery: most of them dazzling trifles with lots of finger work. Ms. Ohnishi chose instead to program a pair that are less often heard, but that better showed Scarlatti's lyric side. The Sonata K208 is rare in that it has no "gimmics," just a beautiful and plaintive melody that starts solo, with a contrapuntal answer and then a tender development. It is a moving piece, nicely presented by Ms. Ohnishi. The second, Sonata K162, is even more rarely heard: initially a "sedate" piece with a surprise sparkle, providing a contrast between the tender and bold. It was refreshing to have two relative unknowns. She didn't have to strut her stuff with the Scarlatti, because the finale proved her mastery and intensity.

Antonio Soler's Fandango is one of the most Spanish pieces in the harpsichord repertoire; it just asks for castanets and (even better) a dancer! Relatively long and demanding, it can be the 18th century equivalent of Ravel's Bolero, both in its successes and failures at the hand of the performer. Ms. Ohnishi began perhaps just a tad slow, but she sustained and built momentum to a roaring climax. It was an exciting end to a very nicely balanced program that both pleased the senses and satisfied the soul.