Ruben Valenzuela and his plucky BachCollegium San Diego opened their fall music season Friday (Sept. 27) at St. James-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla with an impassioned concert of choral works by J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel. Choosing the year 1707 as his focal point, Valenzuela offered two impressive works composed in that year by the young Handel and Bach for their respective patrons.
Over the last 10 seasons, the Carlsbad Music Festival has become the bright beacon of exciting contemporary music in San Diego County. In a coastal town that was once visited only to see fields of poinsettias in bloom, the Carlsbad Music Festival sports a cadre of performers that should make more established festivals green with envy.
When a cellist wanted to present a solo program, there was a time when he had but two choices: either learn the fiendishly difficult J.S. Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello or hire an accompanist. In this computer age, all virtuoso cellist Eric Byers needed on Friday (Sept. 13) at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan was his computer and an improvised sound system to make his musical compositions blossom.
SummerFest Music Director Cho-Liang Lin thought he had a coup signing up Los Angeles Opera’s Music Director James Conlon to conduct the 2013 SummerFest finale concert, that is until maestro Conlon bowed out for some emergency surgery. Fortunately, the estimable British conductor Raymond Leppard stepped in on short notice to lead the chamber orchestra in a glowing program of Mozart and Benjamin Britten.
La Jolla SummerFest’s Bach and Beyond III program (Wednesday, Aug. 21) drafted a chorus and four vocalists to consider both the trials of love in Brahms’ “Neues Liebeslieder Walzer,” Op. 65, and those of faith in J. S. Bach’s Sacred Cantata No. 99, “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan.”
When it comes to commissioning new music, the odds for success are no better than those of the casual vacationer visiting a Las Vegas casino and hitting the jackpot. But La Jolla Music Society’s impressive three world premieres Friday (Aug. 16) at SummerFest 2013 beat those odds hands down and offered thrilling Bartók as a bonus.