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Bachfest PDX powers up the Passion

  • Apr 20, 2012
When the power of great music and the passion of world-renowned performers come together, you get the Oregon Bach Festival’s 2012 Portland concert series, Bachfest PDX. Ranging from Mendelssohn's masterworks to tantalizing tango tunes of Buenos Aires, each of the four performances convey a passion all their own, echoing this year’s theme, The Power & The Passion. Tickets are now on sale for this year’s four-concert series, which runs June 30 – July 11 at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and Lincoln Hall on the PSU campus. Returning to Portland after bringing audiences to their feet in three sold out performances with the Oregon Symphony in January, violin virtuoso Joshua Bell makes his OBF debut, kicking off the concert series with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Taking Mendelssohn’s most celebrated orchestral piece to the next level, Bell will perform his own cadenza at the high point of the work. The all-Mendelssohn concert, Saturday, June 30, continues with the Italian Symphony and the exciting choral work The First Walpurgisnacht. Conducted by Helmuth Rilling, the performance of these works, all by a composer influenced by Bach, is sure to make a powerful impact. Reflecting passion of a different hue, Matthew Halls will conduct Michael Tippett’s modern choral work, A Child of our Time on Friday, July 6. The work was Tippett's heartfelt response to the tragedies he witnessed during World War II. Modeled after Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Tippett engages the audience during crucial moments of the work by integrating American spirituals in place of the Passion’s chorales. In Halls's view, “these hauntingly beautiful pieces, involving practically everyone on stage, resonate powerfully" with contemporary audiences. Halls, who will succeed Helmuth Rilling as artistic director following the 2013 Festival, opens the concert with Bach's Lutheran Mass in G Major. Continuing on Monday, July 9, John Scott, top organist and music director of New York’s St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, will perform Bach’s most extensive and celebrated organ piece, Clavier-Übung III. The piece contains a grand total of 27 complex compositions, which reflect the main musical themes of the time as well as Bach’s religious views. Scott will perform on the 4,000-pipe Rosales organ, which the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral refers to as “one of the finest pipe organs in America.” Wrapping up this year’s Bachfest PDX is harmonica virtuoso and native Oregonian, Joe Powers. On Wednesday, July 11, along with his international quintet and a troupe of tango dancers led by Alex Krebs, Powers will perform an eclectic mix of traditional and modern tango, demonstrating the inherent passion of such dances as the milonga, tango, and samba. To purchase Bachfest PDX tickets or for more detailed information, please visit the Oregon Bach Festival ticket page. Bachfest PDX festival schedule
  • Saturday, June 30, 7:30 pm Joshua Bell plays Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto; also Mendelssohn's Die Erste Walpurgisnacht and Italian Symphony, all conducted by Helmuth Rilling (Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $26-$90)
  • Friday, July 6, 7:30 pm A Child of our Time, Michael Tippett’s modern choral masterwork inspired by World War II; also Bach's Lutheran Mass. OBF choir and orchestra conducted by Matthew Halls (Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, $29-$45)
  • Monday, July 9, 7:30 pm Top organist John Scott performs Bach’s most extensive organ work, Clavier-Übung III (Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, $10-$25)
  • Wednesday, July 11, 7:30 pm Harmonica virtuoso Joe Powers, his international quintet and a quartet of tango dancers perform traditional and modern tango, evoking sounds of Argentina (Lincoln Hall at Portland State University, $10-$25)