Distinguished Artist Mary Wilson, soprano (Daily Festival log, July 20)

Voice faculty Max van Egmond, Judith Malafronte, and William Sharp (on left) coach soprano Elise Figa in a piece by Clérambault during the public master class on Saturday. Joshua Keller (viola da gamba) is on the right

Voice faculty Max van Egmond, Judith Malafronte, and William Sharp (on left) coach soprano Elise Figa in a piece by Clérambault during the public master class on Saturday. Joshua Keller (viola da gamba) is on the right

Mary Wilson is a beloved favorite with ABS audiences, musicians, and staff. Last night’s Distinguished Artist concert was a perfect case-in-point example of why we all love her: generous, gracious, and charismatic, Ms Wilson is a delight to behold and experience in performance … and she sings beautifully! Whether thrilling the audience with fabulous displays of vocal pyrotechnics or moving us with her expressive and heartfelt presentation, she is an altogether superb artist. The program focused on the Italian side of Bach by way of Vivaldi—an important inspiration for Bach—and Handel—an inspiration for everyone. The concert opened with the gentle, dance-like rhythms of Handel’s Italian secular cantata, Tra le fiamma. Wilson, clearly in her Handelian element, made it all sound so easy. The instrumental works on the program were as impressive and demanding as the vocal selections: Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor for 4 violins, which ABS violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock has described as a pinnacle work, featured Blumenstock, Robert Mealy, Katherine Kyme, and Noah Strick as the soloists, and Bach’s Concerto in D major for harpsichord solo with Corey Jamason as the soloist. For her final number on the program, Wilson sang Vivaldi’s In furore iustissimae irae with Jeffrey Thomas conducting the orchestra. The crowd roared in appreciation at the end of the performance and Wilson sang two encores, both from the pen of Handel.

Patrons view the ABS photo retrospective outside the concert hall before heading inside to hear   soprano Mary Wilson and the ABS orchestra at last night’s Distinguished Artist concert

Patrons view the ABS photo retrospective outside the concert hall before heading inside to hear soprano Mary Wilson and the ABS orchestra at last night’s Distinguished Artist concert

So that was last night; a great performance to cap off an already terrific day. Earlier on, the Festival featured another well-attended public master class, this time for voice, and a great lecture by Debra Nagy that whetted our appetite for next season’s performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

There are no master classes or lectures today. It is July 20, the final day of the Festival, and the only order of business is a matinee performance of Bach’s epic Mass in B Minor. Jeffrey Thomas and the ABS Festival Orchestra and soloists are ready, the audience is ready, and I am certainly ready to experience it once again!

Following this year’s Festival, you won’t have to wait too long to hear more outstanding performances by ABS. The ABS gala is coming up on September 20, 5 performances of Messiah in December, and a stellar 2015 season are all coming up soon. If that weren’t enough, there is also the 2015 ABS Festival & Academy in August of next year to look forward to. The theme: Versailles!

Congratulations ABS Academy class of 2014. Thank you for sharing your talent and passion for music with all of us here at ABS. Two weeks went by in a flash, but I hope to see and hear all of you again very soon.

Thank you for reading.

Jeff McMillan