Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vocal Valentines thrill in trio of venues

If music be the food of love, play on!

     Luckily for fans of early classical music, it's not too late to enjoy the brilliant Valentine offerings of the Bach Collegium San Diego.
     More than 200 of us gathered Friday evening under the acoustically perfect arches of San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
     What a treat to enjoy the fruits of music director Ruben Valenzuela's devotion.
     As founder, conductor and harsichordist of the decade-old endeavor, Valenzuela and company earned a standing ovation and bravos after treating the audience to a Bach contata, a half-dozen Henry Purcell works and pieces by Claudio Monteverdi and G. F. Handel, all with the seductive theme of love.
     Love lost, love fulfilled, love complex!
Balboa Park's San Diego History Center hosted offerings
of Bach Collegium Friday night.  The ensemble encores
Saturday in Rancho Santa Fe.-- photo by Bruce Keller
     Ah, love, love, love -- richly interpreted by four talented singers and eight magnificent musicians with the elegance and expressive tone the holiday of love deserves.
     An all-ages audience sat appreciatively then rose to its feet to applaud the rare talents of Valenzuela and a gifted ensemble.
     Darryl Taylor's soulful countertenor contributions wowed the crowd and his Monteverdi duet with soprano Rebecca Kellerman Petretta had the audience buzzing at intermission.  Singers John Russell, tenor, and John Polhamus, bass, enhanced the evening's offerings.
     Associate director and ancient music specialist, violinist Pierre Joubert -- standing as is the tradition -- helped lead the musicians through an evening of pleasure -- precisely rendered and evocative.  For this pianist and string player, it was an evening of riches, enhanced by the opportunity to appreciate Daniel Zuluaga's contributions on the engaging theorbo, a fascinating and mysterious 1580s instrument.  With its elaborate structure, this plucked string instrument harks to Renaissance Italy with a nod to Turkish instruments as well.
     Kathryn Montoya's able oboe and recorder work, Sally Jackson's bassoon, Heather Vorwerck's cello and Janet Strauss on violin achieved a beauty and harmony with Shanon Zusman's constant support on contrabass and viola da gamba.
     I'll venture this program is a "one of a kind" in California and perhaps nationally. How often do we have the chance to experience a jig, a hornpipe tune, a dance for the fairies? All in venues carefully chosen  by Valenzuela for their enhancement to his beloved favorite Renaissance, baroque and early-era music.
     His love of the music and the harpsichord he brilliantly played put the icing on the Valentine's cake.  Volunteers and devotees capped the evening with truffles.  Could anything be sweeter?  So we adapt the line from "Twelfth Night" to express our heartfelt thanks:  play on! And sing on, too!
Nordic Voices will keep the vocal Valentine
spirit flowing -- Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. James By-The Sea.
     Bach Collegium plays tonight (Saturday, Feb. 9) at 7:30 p.m. in Rancho Santa Fe Performing Arts Center with a pre-concert discussion led by Valenzuela at 6:45 p.m. For details, go to  
     And to gild the musical lily, catch Nordic Voices Sunday at 4 p.m. in La Jolla at St. James by-the-Sea.  The southern California debut of this award-winning sextet from Norwway features secular and sacred music. The setting is the
picturesque and beloved venue at 743 Prospect, La Jolla.                                                               
  Tickets are $25.  More at                             



No comments:

Post a Comment