An evening with Stephen Stubbs and the terrific performers of Pacific MusicWorks always gives you more than you could have expected or hoped for. This imaginative program - 'Roman Holiday: Young Handel's Italian Adventures' - not only gave the audience a wonderful evening of music, but it educated the listener in Handel's early influences, his germinating ideas, the influence of the Roman Arcadian Academy on the development of baroque opera and oratorio, and, as always, a visual education on how baroque music looks as well as sounds.
Last Sunday, May 13, Seattle had the opportunity to hear soprano Amanda Forsythe, a specialist in Baroque style and singing technique, performing Handel cantatas, while just a little earlier in the month Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva, also steeped in Baroque style and singing technique, had sung Handel as well as Vivaldi. It was a fascinating experience to hear two very different, equally fine voices of the same range in the same style in such close juxtaposition.
St. Mark’s Cathedral was full Sunday afternoon to hear the young, remarkable countertenor Reginald Mobley, presented by Pacific MusicWorks. The performance, titled “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” celebrated black voices in American music over the past 200 years.
Mobley possesses a deep understanding of not only black music but of the baroque countertenor literature — and it took only a few notes for listeners to recognize they were in the presence of a rare vocal talent.
How rare to be able to say that a concert was perfect in every way—programming, soloist, balance, precision, musicianship, style, dynamics, pitch, phrasing, nuance, and so on.
Pacific MusicWorks hit this jackpot Sunday afternoon at Nordstrom Recital Hall. Even the acoustics in this hall, which can be problematic with modern instruments playing in high registers, were just right for this concert of Handel’s music with period instruments and a tenor soloist, Aaron Sheehan.
One of the most positive environments for music students is the opportunity to perform alongside excellent professionals. At the University of Washington School of Music, the new partnership with the pros – in this case, the much-lauded Pacific MusicWorks – is providing bonuses for both students and audiences in the stellar new production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”