Bach Scholar Christoph Wolff To Be Featured Guest
Middlebury, VT—The fourth annual Middlebury Bach Festival will take place April 25–27, 2014, featuring world-renowned Bach scholar Christoph Wolff on his second visit to the Festival. Wolff joins students, affiliate artists, faculty, and professional musicians from Vermont and greater New England for this popular festival celebrating the music and influence of Johann Sebastian Bach. Three days of musical events will bring the College and town of Middlebury together, modeled after the way the famous organist/composer worked in Leipzig over 275 years ago.
Guest scholar Christoph Wolff is Adams University Research Professor at Harvard University and was a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Middlebury College in 2012. He has published widely on the history of music from the 15th to the 20th centuries, and has received several awards related to his work, including the Bach Prize of the Royal Academy of Music (2006) and the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for his book Johann Sebastian Bach; The Learned Musician (2000) which has been translated into eight languages. Wolff’s most recent book is Mozart at the Gateway to His Fortune: Serving the Emperor, 1788–1791 (2012).
The Festival is organized by Jeffrey Buettner, associate professor of music and director of choral activities, and Jessica Allen, singer, voice teacher, and director of music at the Congregational Church of Middlebury.
The Festival opens on Friday, April 25 with a concert by cellist Sophie Shao and violinist Soovin Kim. Both are accomplished, world-class musicians who also have strong local connections—Shao is a frequent artist on Middlebury College’s Performing Arts Series; Kim is a native of Plattsburgh, NY and directs the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival. Their program will feature the unaccompanied works of J.S. Bach for cello and violin. The concert will take place at 8:00 P.M. in the Concert Hall of Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts. Tickets are $25 regular admission; $20 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, and affiliates with an ID; and $6 for Middlebury College students.
On Saturday, April 26, the Festival continues with three interest sessions in the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The first, “Unaccompanied Bach: Bach’s Solo Works for Cello and Violin,” will be given by cellist Sophie Shao and violinist Soovin Kim at 10:00 A.M. The 11:00 A.M session, “Demonstration of Oboe, Oboe d’amore, English Horn, and Oboe da Caccia in the Music of J.S. Bach,” will be offered by oboist Cheryl Bishkoff. After a break for lunch on their own in the community, participants can return to the Concert Hall for the third interest session by guest scholar Christoph Wolff, “From Christmas to Ascension Day: J.S. Bach’s Unique Oratorio Cycle,” starting at 1:30 P.M. All of the interest sessions are free and open to the public.
Saturday afternoon events continue with a carillon recital by Middlebury College carillonneur George Matthew Jr. at 3:00 PM at Mead Chapel. Next, classical guitarist Eric Despard will perform from 6:00–7:30 P.M. at 51 Main in downtown Middlebury. In this encore of his presentation from last year’s festival, Despard will perform music by Bach and other composers as listeners enjoy food and drink available at this popular night spot. Admission is free to both of these events.
Saturday’s schedule culminates in the grand Festival Concert at 8:00 P.M. in Middlebury College’s beautiful Mead Memorial Chapel. The concert opens with the famous work The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi, with original narration read by Vermont Public Radio commentator Linda Radtke. The final work of the program will be Bach’s Ascension Oratorio. Jeffrey Buettner will conduct this major work, performed by the Middlebury College Choir, student and guest instrumentalists, and four professional vocal soloists: soprano and Middlebury College Affiliate Artist Carol Christensen, alto Linda Radtke, tenor Adam Hall, and bass Stephen Falbel. All four vocalists perform regularly as soloists in Vermont and in regional choral ensembles and opera companies, including the vocal ensemble Counterpoint, the Opera Company of Middlebury, and the Metropolitan Opera. Tickets for the Saturday Festival Concert are $12 regular admission; $10 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, and affiliates with an ID; and free for Middlebury College students showing their student ID.
On Sunday, April 27, the Middlebury College Choir will perform a Europe Tour Preview Concert at 3:00 PM at Mead Chapel, conducted by Jeffrey Buettner. This concert is free and open to the public.
In addition, area congregations will respond to the spirit of the Festival by including works by Bach in their Sunday services. Participating organizations include the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Congregational Church of Middlebury UCC, Memorial Baptist Church, St. Stephen’s on the Green, and the United Methodist Church of Middlebury.
The 2014 Middlebury Bach Festival is sponsored by the Performing Arts Series, the Office of the President of Middlebury College, the Academic Enrichment Fund, Middlebury College Choir, the Department of Music, the Office of the Director of the Arts, Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts, and 51 Main at the Bridge. The carillon recital is sponsored by the American Bell Association.
The Mahaney Center for the Arts is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available. For the Saturday night concert at Mead Chapel, free parking is available along Old Chapel Road, Route 125/College Street, and Hillcrest Road, with handicap accessible parking reserved on Hepburn Road. For tickets or information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to http://go.middlebury.edu/bachfest.
Bach Festival concert photos by Brett Simison
Sophie Shao photo by Christian Steiner
Soovin Kim photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco