by Stephen Stubbs
We were delighted to have soprano Amanda Forsythe back with us for our program called Roman Holiday. The “back-up band” was equally spectacular with Ingrid Matthews joining Tekla Cunningham on violins, Elisabeth Reed up from the Bay Area to join us on baroque cello and our regular “house continuo band” of Henry Lebedinsky on harpsichord, Maxine Eilander baroque harp and me playing baroque guitar and lute. It was a particular pleasure to explore this very special repertoire of Handel’s Heroines from his youthful stint in Rome, and the idea is formulating for this to become our next commercial CD release from PMW, following the (still-to-be-released) Total Eclipse: Handel’s music for tenor with Aaron Sheehan and the virtuoso violin repertoire recorded with Tekla in February, which will be called Stylus Phantasticus. It is particularly exciting for me to see this burst of energy toward recordings based on the wonderful talent pool of Pacific MusicWorks but made practically possible by the luck of having the Bastyr venue and the spectacular recording team of producer David Sabee and recording engineer Dmitri Lipay available to us – the same team that has been garnering GRAMMY nominations and awards for their work with Seattle Symphony.
In early June we are all off to Berkeley for the Early Music Festival there. The first event will be a revival performance of SHAK’s wonderful production of Handel’s Serse with a cast of kids, including our daughters Hannah and Julianna, and with a small professional band led by Tekla Cunningham. SHAK (Seattle Historical Arts for Kids) is the brainchild of Shulamit Kleinerman and has been producing remarkable results here in Seattle for several years as well as exporting these productions to the Boston Early Music Festival and Berkeley. Two days later the PMW house band with sopranos Tess Altiveros and Danielle Sampson will revive our popular program from last summer of South American baroque music: Missions and Mysteries. This repertoire has a very special and accessible flavor and we are lucky to profit from Henry’s detailed knowledge of this little-performed treasure-trove. There are many other wonderful concerts on the festival which I am looking forward to hearing, and I have also been asked to take part in a panel discussion about the future of early music festivals with Robert Cole, the director of the Berkeley Festival, Xavier van Damme, director of the Utrecht Early Music Festival and me as a representative of the Boston Festival (BEMF).
Meanwhile, Tess Altiveros, who will be with us on June 5 in Berkeley, has performances of O + E as they are calling a very special all-female production of Gluck’s Orpheus and Euridice by Seattle Opera’s Programs & Partnerships Department – performing at the Seattle Opera Studios on June 2,3,7,9 and 10. This is the same SO initiative that produced our performances of The Combat in the same space last season with Tess and Thomas Segen singing and performing a death-defying sword fight just inches from the audience. This initiative to bring opera performances to innovative venues and to engage with current social issues has had a huge response particularly in bringing a younger audience to experience live opera.
After the dust settles on the Berkeley Festival, I will stay on in San Francisco until July 21 conducting a production of Mozart’s Il Re Pastore for the prestigious Merola program – a sort of summertime Young Artist’s program of San Francisco Opera.
When I finally get back to the northwest, it will be just about time for the Whidbey Island Music Festival directed by Tekla Cunningham, and I will write-up a preview of those concerts in the June blog.
For now, keep an eye out for the brochures which have recently gone in the mail for our next spectacular season of concerts – also, note that we have, for the first time ever, the ability to book exact seats for subscribers, and the first to subscribe will get the double benefit of “early bird’ discounts and first dibs on choice seats. Thanks you so much for you continuing support, and if you haven’t yet, please take a look at the rich palette of additional offerings through Henry’s PMW Underground series, and also the monthly Sanctuary in the Cityseries at the Josephinum.