Festival off to a great start (Daily Festival log, July 12)

Ensembles, coachings, and another rehearsal for the Mass filled the Friday morning schedule. Overheard comments from the rehearsal: Elizabeth Blumenstock on rehearsing the “Laudamus te” aria: “If we were the Supremes then this aria would need two Diana Rosses” (referring to the voice and violin soloists); Jeffrey Thomas moments before beginning the “Domine Deus” aria: “Ah, more magic music!” Along with this packed day of collaboration and study, Friday also marked the beginning of the 2014 Festival.

Bach break. Taking a breather during the morning rehearsal of the Mass in B Minor. Anna Gorbachyova and Kyle Collins are standing at the organ while Laura Gaynon (violoncello) goes over some figures. Shawn Alger and Daniel Turkos discuss the bass parts (in the back)

Bach break. Taking a breather during the morning rehearsal of the Mass in B Minor. Anna Gorbachyova and Kyle Collins are standing at the organ while Laura Gaynon (violoncello) goes over some figures. Shawn Alger and Daniel Turkos discuss the bass parts (in the back)

Before heading to the Conservatory for the opening performance, a merry crew of ABS supporters and members of the ABS staff met at Dobbs Ferry restaurant to kick off the 2014 Festival with a celebratory Opening Night dinner. For those who haven’t been to Dobbs Ferry yet, you simply must go! The congenial atmosphere is the perfect compliment to a fine menu, which offers delicious courses of seafood, meat, and vegetarian delights to please any palate. Oh… and save room for desert!

The festive atmosphere was abuzz in the lobby of the Conservatory. In the moments before the concert, the excitement was palpable as enthusiastic Bach lovers and those who were intrigued to hear the works of Buxtehude, Marcello, and others whose works influenced Bach. After all, the opportunity to hear an exceptionally beautiful work like Johann Christoph Bach’s Es erhub sich ein Streit doesn’t come along often enough. Thank you, ABS!

The photo exhibition “ABS – The First 25 Years” on the wall outside the concert hall attracted lots of attention as festivalgoers recalled some of their favorite ABS moments from the past quarter century before filing into the concert hall to hear ABS.

The room was full and the audience roared with appreciation at the conclusion. What a great program of extraordinary works, many of which were from off the beaten path of baroque repertory. All of the performances were magnificent, but the last work on the program, Bach’s transcription of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, was the perfect closer to Part I of the two-night Bach’s Inspiration program. Soprano Mary Wilson and countertenor Eric Jurenas were the soloists on this glorious work from the mature Bach’s years in Leipzig. Though its music might have sounded familiar at first, Bach’s additions to Pergolesi’s instrumental textures were lovely to hear and added richness, complexity, and were … well, totally Bach! I think I speak for many who were there last night when I say, “Wow!” Off to a great start.

Continue with Day 6.