by Stephen Stubbs
It’s my favorite time in the two-year cycle around the Boston Early Music Festival – the July after the Festival! And being home and free in the beautiful mild Seattle summer means both rest and recreation with the family, as well as free space to dream about the future and prepare for the season to come.
The preparation and execution of the festival – with its four weeks of ten hour work days and one week of back-to-back performances, workshops, and lectures – is followed by a relatively easy retreat to Great Barrington for some final performances (this year of the hilarious Pergolesi double-bill of Serva Padrona and Livietta et Tracollo) and then, at the end of June, back home to Seattle. Looking back at this issue of BEMF (although personally harder for me in that Maxine and the girls were not with me), it was one of our most successful festivals ever, with Campra’s Carneval de Venise, Handel’s Resurrezione and the Pergolesi chamber opera as the highlights for me. Another particular thrill was hearing my dear friend Milos Valent lead his inspired group of folk and classical musicians called Solamente Naturali through a program of Telemann’s folk-inspired music reverse engineered into its rip-roaring original form. In terms of dreaming about the future of PMW and Seattle events, bringing Milos’s group and the Pergolesi double-bill to the Northwest would be my fondest desires.
Right now the most pressing preparation is for the Spanish/South American concert called Missions and Mysteries which we will perform at Tekla’s Whidbey Island Festival August 4 & 6 and in Vancouver on August 10, as well as our Annual Fundraiser event on September 16 at the beautiful Bellevue Resonance venue. Luckily the stars have aligned so that we can have the wonderful team of Tess Altiveros and Danielle Sampson as the vocal soloists of all of these events.
Henry Lebedinsky, our multi-talented keyboard colleague, who is also the founder and director of Pacific MusicWorks Underground, has called on his extensive knowledge of baroque and classical music in South America to create another spectacular program (after designing our Christmas program, Navidad, for last season). Getting to know this music at the piano over the past weeks has been one of the special pleasures of the season for me. Music written in South America in the 18th century has a very particular (and highly accessible) flavor which is hard to describe. In one way it feels like composers in the era of Haydn and Mozart, still working with the vocabulary of Handel and Pergolesi, but in another way, it feels so modern that I often have the feeling that it could have been written yesterday. One element of that “modern” feeling is that it often partakes of a harmonic language that would not be foreign to the Beatles but decorated with gorgeous arpeggiated violin figures. I hope that some of you will be able to hear the concert at the lovely venue of St. Augustine’s in the Woods on Whidbey Island. Or come hear the extravagant violin virtuosity of Tekla Cunningham in our August 5 concert Stilus Fantasticus.