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Bach Beat

More highlights from the Oregon Bach Festival
Tamara Wilson
Tamara Wilson

This time each year, Eugene respectfully steps back and offers the stage to the Oregon Bach Festival. And no wonder: The 44-year-old classical music institution abounds with so many attractive performances, workshops, lectures and other events that we couldn’t even begin to cover them all in last week’s issue. Here’s a rundown of some remaining top recommendations.

 

Jonathan Manson, Cello

J.S. Bach’s six suites for solo cello are among the most plangent music ever written. We still marvel at how he could make a single instrument express such profound emotion. Manson, one of Europe’s finest cellists, will play three of Bach’s immortal suites and rarely heard music by one of his predecessors, the 17th-century Bolognese composer Domenico Gabrielli.  

7:30 pm Thursday, July 3, at Beall Concert Hall

 

Strauss Soirée II

It may seem odd to schedule two concerts of late Romantic chamber music at a festival nominally devoted to much earlier Baroque music, particularly since the composer best known for the dramatic opening theme in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey specialized in megalo-musical forces in his operas and tone poems. The concert features some of Strauss’s hundreds of songs, performed by a strong cast of singers — soprano Tamara Wilson, the great young tenor Nicholas Phan and bass Tyler Duncan, accompanied by pianist David Riley.

7:30 pm Sunday, July 6, at Beall Concert Hall

 

Discovery Series

This summer offers a clear chance to see the differences as well as the similarities between Helmuth Rilling, who created this ingeniously enlightening combination lecture-demonstration-concert-conductor training workshop, and his successor. Halls will lead a session devoted to one of Bach’s most famous cantatas, Christ Lay in Death’s Bonds (July 3) using a Baroque ensemble, while Rilling leads the July 7 and 10 shows with the OBF orchestra, featuring Bach’s Ascension Oratorio and Cantata 172. Either way, you’re bound to learn plenty. 

4:30 pm July 3, 7 and 10, at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater

 

Rilling Conducts Mozart

The festival’s venerable founder returns to lead two of Mozart’s late-career masterpieces: the dark, dramatic Symphony No. 40 and the mighty Requiem he never quite finished; happily, we’ll hear the completion made by Robert Levin in 1993, which hews closer to Mozart’s ideas and just sounds better than the often clumsy completion made by one of the dead composer’s students.

7:30 pm Tuesday, July 8, at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall

 

Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy

Anton Armstrong returns to lead the seven dozen young voices in music by Mozart, world premieres by David Childs and Rollo Dilworth and other 20th-century music, classical and non — plus a Bach cantata led by Rilling.

7:30 pm Wednesday, July 9, at First United Methodist Church

 

Duke Ellington and the Harlem Jazz Craze 

As with Strauss and Rachmaninoff, we could probably stretch hard enough to find some kind of connection between Bach and America’s greatest man of music, but why bother? As we’re oft reminded by The Shedd, Ellington is simply responsible for a sizable chunk of America’s greatest 20th-century music. Art Abrams’ Swing Machine Big Band performs many of the classics from “The Mooche” to “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” with narration by Jamie Bernstein.

7:30 pm Friday, July 11, at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall

 

Verdi Requiem

When the great Italian poet Manzoni died in 1873, the country’s greatest composer decided to write a major requiem (the Latin mass for the dead) to honor him, and its premiere in Milan a year later became a national event. Verdi even took it on tour to London, Paris and Vienna. People cared about poets then. Not surprisingly for one of the great opera composers, this great religious work brims with drama.

3 pm Sunday, July 13, at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall