Artistic synergy ignites in Midsummer program

  • Jul 7, 2009

From The Register-Guard Celebrating two of this year’s Oregon Bach Festival’s themes — William Shakespeare and Felix Mendelssohn — the Eugene Ballet Company joined forces with the festival orchestra, singers and narrators in presenting a satisfying and well-attended performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Sunday afternoon at the Hult Center. Aside from the overture, Mendelssohn didn’t compose any music to be played during Act I, and much of his incidental music to Shakespeare’s comedy was to be heard between scenes, with occasional instrumental or vocal music to accompany the action or underscore dialogue. This presented choreographer Toni Pimble, EBC’s artistic director, with...


Backing the bard, Monica Huggett's Portland Baroque Orchestra plays up a storm

  • Jul 6, 2009

Shakespeare inspires music. Like the air surrounding Prospero’s island in “The Tempest,” Shakespeare’s plays are suffused with music, and for four centuries composers have responded with incidental music, operas and new versions of the songs that dot his plays. On Friday evening, the Portland Baroque Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, along with soprano Robin Johannsen and tenor James Taylor, offered a wealth of such music by British composers who lived during and shortly after Shakespeare’s life. The concert was a delicious treat of rarely heard music. The program consisted of three parts: music most likely used for original performances, such as Desdemona’s “Willow Song”;...


Von Stade, orchestra successfully bring Bach the Bard

  • Jul 6, 2009

From The Register-Guard Farewell tours by famous artists are more often nostalgic love fests than artistic events. But the engaging opera star Frederica von Stade, who is on the first leg of such a tour, gave the audience at the Oregon Bach Festival both artistry and nostalgia. She was accompanied by the sterling Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra which, under the direction of Jeffrey Kahane, provided its own thrilling musical moments. It was a concert to cherish. Von Stade’s program was relatively light, but the delightful singer had the audience eating out of her hand from the moment she entered and almost tripped...


PBO and soloists present an epic OBF concert

  • Jul 3, 2009

Northwest Reverb classical music blog Oregon Bach Festival audiences were treated to a very rare treat on Monday, June 29th at the First United Methodist Church in Portland. The Portland Baroque Orchestra, one of the nation's premier early music orchestras and a guest ensemble at this year's festival, presented all six of Bach's famous Brandenburg Concertos under the sterling direction of Monica Huggett (who did a triple duty as violinist and violist as well.) These works were composed over a ten-year span while Bach was still a young man, and presented to a music-loving (though ultimately ungrateful) prince, the Margrave of Brandenburg....


The compleat and accurate Brandenburgs

  • Jul 2, 2009

[caption id="attachment_2908" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Monica Huggett"][/caption]Click here to read the story in The Register-Guard. It had been a decade since local audiences have had the chance to hear all six of the "Brandenburg" Concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach within a single Oregon Bach Festival. On Tuesday, Hult Center listeners not only got the opportunity to hear the whole set, but they were privileged to hear them more or less as they might have been presented in Bach's time. The Portland Baroque Orchestra is an ensemble-in-residence at this year's festival. Founded about a quarter-century ago, the chamber orchestra employs "period instruments," reviving performance practices...


From the gut

  • Jul 2, 2009

[caption id="attachment_2869" align="alignright" width="217" caption="Monica Huggett and Adam LaMotte"][/caption]Monica Huggett realized early in her career that something was definitely lacking when she played Baroque music on a 20th century violin. She began to notice the problem when she was a music student in the 1960s. Partly, it was the style of performance she was taught, and partly it was the instrument itself. “I felt uncomfortable playing a lot of music on modern violins,” she said in a telephone interview last week. “When I was a student it just didn’t feel … it didn’t feel good. “The way one was expected to play the...


OBF opens on joyful note

  • Jun 29, 2009

For the past dozen years, the Oregon Bach Festival has flung open its doors with the sound of children singing. A lot of children. As in 300, from all over the country. Standing shoulder to shoulder, five rows deep, spiffy in ties or skirts, hair slicked down, shirts tucked in, they fill the high-ceilinged lobby with their clear, treble voices. It's a wonderful warm-up for the main concert that follows inside the formal Silva Hall behind them, and it also serves as a preview of the children's main concert that comes a few days later (7:30 p.m. Sunday). Friday's performance had smiles...