The December 22, 2019, performance by the Bach Collegium San Diego of G. F. Handel’s complete “Messiah” in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall of the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla benefited greatly from the new hall’s splendid acoustics, high ceiling and clean sight lines. Of even greater import, the Bach Collegium’s fresh, insightful approach to 18th-century period performance practice gave it uncanny communicative powers to a 21st-century audience.

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Ruben Valenzuela’s Bach Collegium San Diego gave an electric performance of J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Friday (December 14) in the capacious sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church of San Diego. Sung in German by a strong 19 member chorus, accompanied by a fleet 25-piece period instrument ensemble, and guided by Artistic Director Valenzuela’s acute sense of Baroque period performance practice, this concert brought the audience amazingly close to Bach’s musical world.

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This year, with many other musical organizations across the continent, the San Diego Symphony has observed the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. But choral director Ruben Valenzuela has chosen 2018 to bring attention to the music of another composer, the Anglo-Canadian Healey Willan, who died 50 years ago, with his Willan West 2018 festival, which ended Saturday, November 17, 2018, with a liturgical celebration at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Hillcrest.

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San Diego maestro Ruben Valenzuela, known for leading rigorous period performances of Bach and Handel, has launched a several month festival to perform the sacred compositions of the early 20th-century Anglo-Canadian composer Healey Willan with equal concern for period practice and context . . .

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