It’s hard to believe, but the first summer festival of my summer is in the can. My wife and I played the first week of the two-week Astoria Music Festival, which is located in the town of Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.
The first concert of the festival featured Russian cellist and Tchaikovsky Competition gold medalist Sergey Antonov playing the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto with the Festival Orchestra. Sergey is a terrific cellist, and he has shown continued growth and maturity as an artist since he last appeared at the festival. He’s already doing a lot of international touring from his home base in Boston, and I hope he gets a chance to play with the Oregon Symphony in an upcoming season. He’s got the goods.
The third concert of the season was the second with the Festival Orchestra, and the featured artist was soprano Ruth Anne Swenson, who sang several selections of Mozart, including his early work Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165. Swenson came back on the second half to sing the final movement of Mahler’s sublime Symphony No. 4. Though I love many of Mahler’s symphonies, I’m convinced that his Fourth is his most well-crafted and emotionally satisfying. I love playing it anytime and anywhere!
We’ve got a day of down time, and then it’s off to Eugene, Oregon for the first concert of the Oregon Bach Festival. The opening gala concert features Yo-Yo Ma playing Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul, which is sure to be an amazing experience. That’s followed by Brahms’ German Requiem, Honegger’s Jean d’Arc at the Stake, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It will be a busy couple of weeks, but very fun and exciting, too.
If you’re looking for a way to keep cool and hear some great music this evening, head on down to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to see the Oregon Bach Festival presenting Mendelssohn’s Elijah tonight at 7:30 p.m. Highlights? The phenomenal OBF chorus, and two exceptional singers: baritone Thomas Quasthoff, and alto Roxanna Constantinescu. And, of course, the great OBF orchestra, under the able direction of artistic director Helmut Rilling. Oh, and get 50% off tickets for the Portland performance – order here.