Boulder Bach Festival celebrates return of live concert tradition – Boulder Daily Camera


Co-directors Mina Gajic and Zachary Carrettin

Spring is a time of renewal, reflection and celebration, and what better way to embody all three than with inspired musical programming? In May, the Boulder Bach Festival (BBF) returns to a long-standing live concert ritual, a shared event between musicians and audiences. In addition to four separate concert programs, all-access pass holders will be invited to attend four talks, two masterclasses and a meet-and-greet with the artists.

An annual concert series that focuses on 500 years of musical composition, the Boulder Bach Festival is described as “sailing the waters of musical history with JS Bach as its compass.” “Festival Week is unique in that it simultaneously pays homage to the influence of JS Bach across time and across cultures while embracing the work of three female composers of the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries, and features works on period instruments as well as modern instruments.” says music director Zachary Carrettin. “Virtually all of Bach’s genres are performed alongside his predecessors, contemporaries and successors.”

Now in its 41st year, BBF has evolved over time with enduring resonance, much like the music it celebrates. “What began as a weekend every spring celebrating JS Bach’s influence on a myriad of thinkers and artists, ranging from Thelonius Monk and Jane Goodall to Eddie Van Halen and Albert Einstein, has blossomed into a year-round season featuring educational events that explore robotics, language, history, musical styles and more, and main season concerts featuring some of music’s most inspired and insightful artists. ‘Europe and the United States,’ Carrettin said.

Since 1981, the nationally acclaimed festival has captivated audiences on local stages. Over the past two pandemic-characterized years, BBF has remained true to the vision of sharing delicious and uplifting music, reimagining the reach and possibilities of presenting a robust online concert series accessible worldwide. While the wider opportunities revel in, nothing quite replaces the live musical experience, and his return was most welcomed last December at Broomfield Auditorium, with a unique take on Handel’s Messiah curated by director Carrettin and performed in part by instrumental and vocal soloists. In February, BBF presented a program that explored migration patterns and cultural influences found in music across time and cultures. “When attending a BBF concert, one can expect to experience the music in its original context, including the cultural forces that led to stylistic innovations,” says Mina Gajić, Artistic and Executive Director.

As this spring heralds a time of dawning anticipation and a return to beloved traditions, BBF is still aware of the evolving pandemic and taking precautionary measures accordingly. All performers and spectators must be fully vaccinated.

Needless to say, the dynamic and thoughtful programming typified by BBF embodies the myriad of benefits for the brain and whole body of classical music, increasingly backed by science. Just listening to classical music has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost memory, boost creativity, and more. This will come as no surprise to Boulder Bach Festival enthusiasts, however. “BBF audiences know that Bach’s music has a relevance that goes beyond fleeting trends,” says Carrettin. “The depth and profundity of the music is breathtaking and inspires introspection.

Boulder Bach Festival, Festival Week 2022
Festival Artists of the Week

Here’s a taste of what to expect throughout the festival week in May:

Contemporary concertos
May 12 – 7:30 p.m.
Artists from the United States and Europe collaborate in concertos by Corelli, Telemann, Handel and JS Bach. Violinist YuEun Kim returns to BBF, a next-generation baroque superstar with over 10 million views on YouTube. Harpsichordist Mina Gajić, whose Schubert recording reached No. 9 on the Billboard Charts in 2021, performs Bach’s powerful Concerto in D Minor. Flautist Ysmael Reyes, a BBF audience favorite, presents the Colorado premiere of a recently rediscovered concerto by Telemann.

Voice of the Chamber
May 13 – 7:30 p.m.
Stellar musicians from London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh and Boulder come together to present a wealth of chamber music genres, both instrumental and vocal, culminating in Bach’s profound motet, “Komm, Jesu, komm”. Viola player and former UC professor Paul Miller returns to the BBF, performing JS Bach’s Sonata in G Minor for Viola da Gamba and Obligatory Keyboard, in collaboration with London-based organ virtuoso Christopher Holman. Rarely heard works such as trio sonatas by Isabella Leonarda and Dario Castello will also be presented. Winner of the World Bach Competition, mezzo-soprano Claire McCahan will perform an intensely dark and rich lamento by Johann Christoph Bach (which JS Bach called “The Deep Bach”). This work is written for three violas, cello, double bass and organ.

Next generations
May 14 – 4 p.m.
Centered around Mina Gajic’s teal and gold Erard piano built in Paris in 1895, this program features chamber music by Lili Boulanger and Clara Schumann. Cellist Coleman Itzkoff, violist Paul Miller and violinist YuEun Kim join Gajic for Mozart’s beloved G minor Piano Quartet. Critically acclaimed Dutch soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg returns to the BBF, singing works by Clara Schumann with a grand piano built during Clara Schumann’s lifetime. Violinist and musical director Zachary Carrettin collaborates with artistic director Mina Gajic in Bach’s Sonata in F Minor, a work of remarkable pathos.

The intimacy of JS Bach
May 15 – 4:00 p.m.
The season finale begins with Coleman Itzkoff, New York-based solo cellist and Art of Duo winner, performing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor, and continues with the first cantata, “Derr Herr denket an uns”, performed one per game. . The vocal quartet presents a motet of serene beauty, composed by Johann Christoph Bach, and organist Christopher Holman presents a chorale prelude on the pipe organ. Finally, flautist Ysmael Reyes joins the festival’s chamber orchestra for Bach’s Orchestral Suite #2 in B minor, a collection of baroque music inspired by international dance.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit: www.boulderbachfestival.org.

Photos courtesy of Boulder Bach Festival

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