Oregon Bach Festival: Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliet

Berlioz: Romeo & Juliet

Conducted by John Nelson featuring Eric Owens, bass.

Called “a true sonic spectacular” by Michael Tilson Thomas of San Francisco Symphony and a “superb symphonic poem” by Opera News. On the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death, John Nelson conducts the Shakespeare narrative that the composer deemed “too beautiful, too musical” not to?be performed. Venerated bass Eric Owens will portray the central role of Friar Laurence.

Sarah Mesko, mezzo-soprano; Colin Ainsworth, tenor; Eric Owens, bass; OBF Orchestra; OBF Chorus; UO Chamber Choir; John Nelson, conductor

Oregon Bach Festival: Bach in Motion

Bach in Motion featuring DanceAbility International

A collaborative and transformational venture brings a collection of Bach’s finest works to life through movement. DanceAbility International partners with OBF to connect Bach’s aspirational sense of humanity to expressions of self-discovery and the equality of humanity beyond the perceived limitations of physical form.

Julia Sophie Wagner, soprano; Sarah Mesko, mezzo-soprano; Colin Ainsworth, tenor; Kenneth Overton, bass-baritone; Sarah Kwak, violin; Vali Phillips, violin; Peter Gregson, cello; Scott Allen Jarrett, harpsichord/piano/organ; OBF Orchestra; UO Chamber Choir; UO Department of Dance; DanceAbility International; Koji Otsuki, program selection; Jane Glover, conductor

Cast List: Alito Alessi, director, choreographer; Jana Meszaros, rehearsal director; Karen Daly; Kelcie Laube; Bakul Willard; Jim Ballard; Hajar Albattah; Madeleine Sisson, performance company intern; Shannon Mockli, associate professor and collaborator; Marisa Bustamente; Timothy Bruno-Hibler; Brittney Hietala

summer catch-up

I can’t believe that it’s been nearly two months since my last post! Lots of stuff has been happening, musically. In early July I was at the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon. I played three orchestral concerts there, and two chamber music concerts. The orchestral concerts were a mixed bag of repertoire. The first concert consisted of the world premiere of The Passion of Yeshua by Richard Danielpour, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. The final orchestral concert was the Elijah oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn, conducted by John Nelson. In between was a hybrid orchestral-chamber music concert. It featured the music of JS Bach and Philip Glass. Our piano soloist in the Oregon premiere of Glass’ Third Piano Concerto and Bach’s G minor piano concerto was the incredible Simone Dinnerstein. We performed without a conductor per se, but with Simone leading as needed from the piano. The opening piece was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, also without a conductor, led by OBF orchestra (and OSO) concertmaster Sarah Kwak. Then, in our festival debut, was the Pyxis Quartet (part of the new 45th Parallel Universe collective) playing Glass’ String Quartet No. 5. Glass was in attendance at the concert, and was also generous enough to give us a bit of time to play through some parts of the quartet the afternoon before the concert. It was a fantastic experience – very much a once-in-a-lifetime sort of musical happening!

Post quartet selfie with Philip Glass: L-R: Marilyn De Oliveira, Charles Noble, Philip Glass, Ron Blessinger, and Ruby Chen.

Then, after a week off at home, I was off to Coos Bay, Oregon for the Oregon Coast Music Festival. This festival has been going strong for 40 years, and this was my first time taking part. James Paul is the music director, and the orchestra comes from all over the western U.S. It was a blast from the past for me, as many in the orchestra played in the Cascade Festival orchestra which I took part in in Bend, Oregon for several years back in the late 1990’s. It’s a large orchestra, and the repertoire was sized to match – Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Scheherazade, Brahms’ 4th Symphony, and Strauss’ Don Juan were the major works of the week’s classical concerts. It was a super fun and relaxed festival, and it was also much cooler than the nearly triple-digit temps that folks inland were dealing with during the week!

Now I’m home again, and getting ready for some chamber music concerts in the Oregon Wine Country. I’ll give you the low down on those later this week.