Academy in Action begins (Daily Festival log, July 15)

Intermission at Sunday’s Mass in B Minor performance (view from Mezzanine seating area). Members of the Academy Festival Orchestra and American Bach Choir

Intermission at Sunday’s Mass in B Minor performance (view from Mezzanine seating area). Members of the Academy Festival Orchestra and American Bach Choir

Monday morning presented an opportunity for Academy participants, faculty, and ABS staff to catch their collective breath after an outstanding opening weekend for the 2014 Festival. Several of the participants took the opportunity to leave the campus, as it were, and get out and explore San Francisco for a few hours. Those who were scheduled to perform in the evening’s Academy in Action concert managed to balance the downtime with some last chamber music rehearsals with their colleagues and even fitting in a coaching or lesson. For all of them, it is a great opportunity to be here and working with ABS so every hour of each day counts and needs to be utilized to the fullest while they are here.

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ABS Faculty members Steven Lehning and William Sharp in the concert hall on Monday afternoon

The Academy-In-Action concerts are the first opportunity that Festivalgoers have to hear these extraordinary musicians in chamber music settings where each participant’s talent and contributions can shine in solo and ensemble contexts. I hope everyone has the chance to attend one, two, or all three of them this year. An added treat of the A-I-A concerts is looking around the concert hall and seeing all the ABS Faculty sitting in the audience listening to each selection with pride and showing their support. Those participants who aren’t on stage performing or who might be awaiting their turn can also be seen in the audience.

Academy-in-Action program I - Joshua Keller (viola da gamba), Melissa Niemeyer (harpsichord), and Glenda Bates (oboe) perform Heinichen’s Sonata in C Minor

Academy-in-Action program I – Joshua Keller (viola da gamba), Melissa Niemeyer (harpsichord), and Glenda Bates (oboe) perform Heinichen’s Sonata in C Minor

Last night’s concert kicked off with a flute extravaganza by Boismortier, the Concerto pour 5 flutes-traversieres sans basse, featuring Kelly Roudabush, Alissa Roedig, Mara Winter, Joshua Romatowski, and Sandra Miller. Soprano Elsa Nicol was the vocal soloist in the next selection, also by Boismortier: Diane et Acteon. Performing along with Elsa were Joel Verkaik (oboe), Sadie Glass (horn), Sarah Stone (violoncello) and John Steven Yeh (keyboard). A group of singers next performed Lotti’s La vita caduca (“The Transitory Life”). There were arias by Bach, a trio sonata by Heinichen, a fascinating series of texts with music by Johann Bach (1604-1673), and settings by Luzzaschi, and Legrenzi. Rather than recount each piece on the program, I would just offer that the evening had a great variety of configurations of singers and instrumentalists in music from the Baroque era and earlier. I always appreciate the chance to hear live performances of Monteverdi’s music and there were two lovely madrigals on the program: “Su, su, su, pastorelli vezzosi” with singers Eliza Bagg, Fiona Gillespie, and Gabriela Estephanie Solis with Paul Holmes Morton (guitar) and “Ardo avvampo” with singers Elise Figa, Molly Netter, Travis Hewitt, Nicholas Burns, Corey Shotwell, Jason Rylander, Ben Kazez, David Rugger, accompanied by Kyle Collins (keyboard), Elizabeth Blumenstock, Robert Mealy (violins), and Steven Lehning (violone).

A-I-A continues tonight at 8:00 pm. Again, I hope everyone can attend at least one of these concerts. They offer a great chance to hear exquisite music performed by some fantastic musicians.