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Fifth Annual Middlebury Bach Festival Takes Place April 24-26

April 10, 2015

2015 Festival Features Guest Conductor Jeffrey Thomas


Middlebury, VT—The fifth annual Middlebury Bach Festival will take place April 24–26, 2015, featuring guest conductor Jeffrey Thomas, Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists. Thomas 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.

Jeffrey Thomas

Thomas was educated at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School of Music, with further studies in English literature at Cambridge University. His illustrious musical career has led him to work with many of the world’s most prestigious performance organizations and venues. His U.S. engagements include the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Berkeley, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, and San Francisco; and performances with virtually every American baroque orchestra. He has performed at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Spoleto USA Festival, Ravinia Festival, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, Boston Early Music Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Next Wave Festival.” International appearances include the Vienna Symphony, the New Japan Philharmonic, and performances in Austria, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Mexico. Thomas is currently professor of music and director of choral ensembles in the Department of Music at UC Davis, and hosts two classical music radio shows. Through world-wide streaming audio, he brings his experience and love for Baroque and choral music to a global audience.

The Middlebury Bach Festival is organized by Jeffrey Buettner, associate professor of music and director of choral activities; and Jessica Allen, singer, voice teacher, Music Together teacher, and director of music at The Congregational Church of Middlebury. “We are especially pleased to be celebrating the fifth year of the Middlebury Bach Festival,” says Allen. “It is rewarding to see how many people are supporting our endeavor, and that they appreciate the timeless magnificence of Bach’s music, whether they are attending or performing in the Festival.”

Axiom Brass cropped square

The Festival opens Friday, April 24, with a concert by the Axiom Brass Quintet at 8:00 P.M. in Mead Memorial Chapel. In a program titled “Sacred Brass,” the Quintet will journey through time with music written for or inspired by the church, including works by J. S. Bach, Palestrina, Byrd, Tchaikovsky, Gabrieli, and Piazzolla. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $20 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students.

The Festival continues on Saturday, April 25 with two interest sessions at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. The first session, “Chant in the Organ Works of J.S. Bach,” will be given at 10:00 A.M. by Dr. William Tortolano, Professor Emeritus of Music and Fine Arts at Saint Michael’s College, Vermont. The next session, “Rhetoric in the Early Cantatas of J.S. Bach,” will be offered by Guest Conductor Jeffrey Thomas at 11:00 A.M. Interest sessions are free and open to the public.

After a break for lunch on their own, participants can return for a carillon recital by Middlebury College carillonneur George Matthew Jr. at 3:00 PM on the lawn surrounding Mead Memorial Chapel. This recital is free and open to the public.

Classical guitarist Eric Despard will then perform an informal concert on Saturday evening from 6:00–7:30 P.M. at 51 Main in downtown Middlebury. Attendees can hear the music free of charge while enjoying food and drink that are available for purchase at this popular night spot.

Saturday evening features the grand Festival Concert led by Jeffrey Thomas at 8:00 P.M. in the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The concert opens with Brandenburg Concerto, No. 5, BWV 1050 by J.S. Bach, followed by a trio of his Cantatas; Funeral Cantata BWV 106 “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” (God’s time is the best of all times), Cantata for Jubilate BWV 12, “Weinen, klagen, sorgen, sagen” (Weeping, lamentation, worry, despair), and Cantata for Palm Sunday BWV 182, “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen” (King of Heaven, welcome). This concert features a variety of  instrumental and vocal color that is new to the Middlebury Bach Festival, including use of recorder and solo vocal quartet as well as full chorus. Tickets for the Festival Concert are $12 for the general public; $10 faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and free for Middlebury College students who show their student ID.

On Sunday, April 26, a 3:00 P.M. chamber music concert will feature Bach’s beloved motet BWV 227, “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, my joy), and other Bach piano works performed by students of Middlebury College affiliate artist Diana Fanning. This concert will take place at the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall, and 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 morning services. Participating organizations include the 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 Middlebury Bach Festival will take place April 24–26, with events at several locations both on and around the Middlebury College campus. Mead Chapel (site of the Friday night concert by Axiom Brass) is located at 75 Hepburn Road, just off Vermont Route 125 west. Free parking is available along Route 125, on Hillcrest Road, and on Old Chapel Road. The Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts (site of many Festival events on Saturday and Sunday) is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available curbside on Route 30, or in the Center for the Arts parking lot, in rows marked faculty/staff/visitors. The majority of events in the Middlebury Bach Festival are free; the two exceptions are the 8:00 P.M. concerts on Friday and Saturday. For tickets or information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to




Photo captions:

5th annual Middlebury Bach Festival, April 24–26, photo Brett Simison

Guest conductor Jeffrey Thomas, photo Gene Kosoy

Axiom Brass Quintet, performing April 24 at Mead Chapel, photo Dario Acosta

Mahaney Center for the Arts
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax