Eric Smith discusses the importance of the outreach programs he experienced in his youth in El Paso, Texas. Mr. Smith is currently the Director of Outreach and cellist with the Dallas Bach Society.
We have scheduled two possible audition dates:
- Saturday, August 20, 2016, starting at 5PM
- Sunday, August 21, 2016, starting at 6PM
We would like to schedule each person within a 30-minute time slot. (That doesn’t mean your audition will last 30 minutes – just that it will be basically within that 30-minute period.)
If you wish to audition and have not recently provided us with a resume, please do so as soon as possible by e-mail. Be sure all contact information is provided – e-mail addresses, phone numbers (including cell), and mailing address. If you have any digital audio recordings of yourself that you can send, or a link to one, that would be delightful and helpful!
For the audition, please plan to sing TWO prepared pieces by Bach, Handel, Telemann, Buxtehude, Monteverdi, Schütz, or one of their contemporaries. An accompanist will be provided, so you will need to bring legible scores for the accompanist. You may also be asked to sight-read. You will be evaluated for both solo and chorus positions.
Many thanks for your interest in Dallas Bach Society! I look forward to hearing from you.
Questions? Email email@example.com.
We are happy to announce our 2016-17 season Musical Awakenings, replete with seminal masterpieces from all aspects of Baroque and Classic music.
New Year’s Eve will introduce the 500th anniversary year of Martin Luther’s Reformation with Bach’s last cantata, Ein feste Burg – A Mighty Fortress is our God – paired with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, to get 2017 off to a great start! Other season highlights include an early December evening of Haydn’s first set of Symphonies as heard in Esterhazy; a Passiontide concert with Bach’s very first cantata, Christ lag in Todesbanden, also by Luther, paired with the first Lutheran oratorio, Dietrich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri; and in May, a fully staged outdoor performance of Henry Purcell’s Fairy Queen at Casa M.
We will open on October 8th with Les Arts Florissants of Charpentier, a chamber opera written in 1685 to honor the return of peace to Europe (probably referring to the defeat of the Turks at the Gates of Vienna in 1683). This charming and profound work celebrates the return of the Arts (Music, Poetry, Painting, Architecture) flourishing under the reign of Peace, who has triumphed over Discord, through the efforts of the Sun King, Louis XIV.
This celestial allegory will be brought to life by Catherine Turocy and her New York Baroque Dance Company with the Dallas Bach soloists and instrumental ensemble.
Our annual performance of Handel’s most popular masterpiece Messiah at the Meyerson Symphony Center will take place on December 19, featuring the orchestra and chorus with soloists Ava Pine, Soprano, Derek Chester, Tenor, and David Grogan, Bass, and introducing brilliant young Alto Kathryne Overturf. And we have added a performance in Plano at Saint Andrew’s on the 21st, with the annual Sing-along taking place on the 20th at Incarnation.
In February, we will experience a new venue as we present Soprano Nell Snaidas, who was awarded “Best Classical of the Year” by Theater Jones for her House Concert on Mediterranean themes in 2015, at the Meadows Museum – the seat of Spanish art in Dallas – with an intimate program with Baroque lute and guitar and the Dallas Bach Chamber Players. Seating is very limited, and those who heard Nell before will be first in line for this concert!
In May, we present a very special event: Henry Purcell’s the Fairy Queen, in a site-specific staging of Purcell’s magical music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a brand-new al fresco setting worthy of the delightful comedy. Catherine Turocy brings her Hawaii Performing Arts Festival creation and her dancers for a once-in-a-lifetime production with the Society, where you the audience will sit in a terrace garden setting as the performance goes on around you!
Our House Concert series, always an exquisite experience, features the complete Bach Suites for violoncello with Dallas Bach principal cellist Eric Smith, who will play the entire cycle over two evenings, one in the fall, and one in the spring. This is your chance to experience these glorious works in a chamber setting where every nuance and detail of expression will be enjoyed to the fullest. Come to one or both, but do not miss this opportunity! And in January, we collaborate with the Dallas Goethe Center as the world-renowned Drew Minter joins the Dallas Bach Society. Seats are of course limited – subscribe now to guarantee your chance to appreciate the artistry of Mr. Minter under ideal circumstances!
Traditional Concert Series
Les Arts Florissants 8 October 2016, 7:30pm
SMU Caruth Auditorium
Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s renowned chamber opera returns to Dallas after a 20 year hiatus, in collaboration with the New York Baroque Dance Company. Written to celebrate the return of peace to Europe (probably referring to the defeat of the Turks at the Gates of Vienna in 1683) this charming and profound work celebrates the return of the Arts of Music, Poetry, Painting, and Architecture, flourishing under the reign of Peace, who has triumphed over Discord, through the glory of the Sun King, Louis XIV.
Franz Josef Haydn: Symphonies #6, 7, 8 “Le Matin”, “Le Midi”, “Le Soir” 3 December 2016, 7:30pm
Church of the Incarnation
Dallas Bach goes classical with performances of Haydn’s first great symphonic set, performed as they were first heard in Esterházy where he was music director. As we are giving our German Baroque Christmas program a year off after last year’s amazing concert, we will offer our annual caroling in German after this concert
Handel’s Messiah 19 December 2016, 7:30pm Meyerson Symphony Center and 21 December 2016, 7:30pm Saint Andrew’s UMC, Plano
“The best Messiah I’ve ever heard in person” (Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News) – our annual celebration of Handel’s immortal masterwork, complete, featuring the Dallas Bach
Orchestra and Chorus, with soloists Ava Pine, Soprano, Derek Chester, Tenor, and David Grogan, Bass, and introducing brilliant young Alto Kathryne Overturf. The Dallas Bach Orchestra and Chorus are led from the harpsichord by Artistic Director James Richman.
Annual Messiah Sing-Along 20 December 2016, 7:30pm
Church of the Incarnation
Join in the chorus as the Dallas Bach Orchestra and soloists from our Meyerson performance accompany YOU in our lively and popular evening of singing enjoyment. We also offer the Novello edition of the Messiah score for purchase; we’ll hold the score for you at Will Call or mail it to you!
Cantata 80 Ein feste Burg and The Four Seasons on New Year’s Eve 31 December 2016 6pm
Church of the Incarnation
Dallas Bach Orchestra and Chorus rings in the New Year and the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation with Bach’s last cantata, on Luther’s famous tune, along with a virtuoso performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons by our concertmaster Clare Cason. A Blockbuster Celebration, with a New Year’s Eve reception included in the ticket price!
“Repertorio Español” with Nell Snaidas 10/11 February 2017, 7:30pm
The Meadows Museum at SMU
Soprano Nell Snaidas was awarded “Best Classical of the Year” by Theater Jones following her brilliant House Concert in 2015, and we agree! We are bringing her to the seat of Spanish Art in Dallas, the Meadows Museum, for masterpieces of the Baroque and Renaissance befitting the magnificent art that will surround us. With Baroque Guitar and Lute and chamber ensemble.
Passion Concert: Bach’s Cantata 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden and the first Lutheran oratorio, Dietrich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri 1 April 2017, 7:30pm
Zion Lutheran Church
We offer Bach’s very first cantata, also on a song by Martin Luther, to continue our celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, along with a most beautiful and historically significant piece by Buxtehude. For Bach, this composer was paramount – he walked 200 miles each way to experience Buxtehude’s music at the cathedral in Lübeck and overstayed his leave to soak up more of the master’s knowledge and genius.
Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen 12 and 13 May 2017, 7:30pm
A site-specific staging of Purcell’s magical music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a brand-new al fresco setting worthy of the delightful comedy. Catherine Turocy brings her Hawaii Performing Arts Festival creation and her dancers for a once-in-a-lifetime production with the Dallas Bach soloists and players where you the audience will sit in a terrace garden setting as the performance goes on around you! Preference for Fairy Queen goes to season subscribers.
House Concert Series
The Complete Cello Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach
11 and 12 November 2016 and 10 and 11 March 2017, both at 8pm; hors d’oeuvres and libations at 7pm
Performed at Private Residences
Two evenings with Dallas Bach principal cellist Eric Smith, featuring the complete cycle of the most amazing music for solo cello ever written. This is your chance to experience these glorious works in a chamber setting where every nuance and detail of expression will be enjoyed to the fullest extent. Come to one or both but do not miss this opportunity!
An Evening with Drew Minter
27 and 28 January 2017, 8pm; hors d’oeuvres and libations at 7pm
Performed at Private Residences
In association with the Dallas Goethe Center, Drew Minter rejoins the Dallas Bach Society in an evening featuring German favorites from the Minnesingers to the Baroque. Seats are of course limited – subscribe now to guarantee your chance to appreciate the artistry of Mr. Minter under ideal circumstances!
Important: House Concert single tickets will go on sale after the subscription drive. Subscribe now to reserve your places at these extraordinary evenings of music and merriment!
NEW THIS SEASON! General Admission subscribers will have a special section just behind the premium section. You do not have to arrive early to enjoy the best G.A. seats.
It is with sadness that the Dallas Bach Society shares the news that our beloved past president Bill Booziotis passed away last week.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at Communities Foundation of Texas.
The Dallas Bach Society
7 May 2016
J.S. Bach – Klavierübung Teil IV: “The Goldberg Variations” BWV 988
James Richman, Harpsichord
About the Program:
The Air with Diverse Variations which make up the fourth and final section of Bach’s encyclopedic Klavierübung are widely conceded to be his ultimate keyboard work. None of his other works exploit the harpsichord so perfectly, and this is one case where the piano fails most thoroughly at providing either the distinctive coloration which is at the heart of the piece, or the technical means for its realization. While the variations are indeed “profound”, complicated, and in general “learned”, as the 18th century would have put it, they are also a work of enormous lyricism and sensual beauty, as well as great playfulness.
The most interesting development in modern times concerning the Bach repertoire is surely the discovery in the early 1970’s of Bach’s own annotated copy of the printed edition of the Goldberg Variations. Appearing in one of three piles of music sold to settle the estate of a music professor in Alsace in the 1930’s, this first edition with its red ink markings was widely known, and sat on the music desk of its owner Prof. Paul Blümenroeder for over forty years before he took it to be rebound. Then a page containing fourteen canons on the Goldberg bass line in an all too familiar hand fell out of the tattered leather binding, and when the red- ink corrections in the printed copy were examined more closely, they too were found to be Bach’s own.
In addition to correcting various wrong notes, Bach clarifies our understanding of the work with his annotations in this copy, which of course became immediately the unique source for the work. He adds Adagio to the famous 25th “Black Pearl” variation, which was no surprise, although the verification of the disputed appogiaturas which smooth out the dramatic jumps in its opening were probably a disappointment to those looking for the equivalent of verismo drama in eighteenth-century keyboard music. The 7th variation is now officially a tempo di giga, and in general there are numerous ornaments which were omitted in the printed version, or perhaps added by Bach later – most striking of all are the appogiaturas in virtually every bar of the 26th variation, which was already so florid that no one today would have ever dreamed of enriching it further.
Finally, it seems that the lovely story related by Spitta about Count Keyserling and his goblet with a hundred louis d’or must suffer serious doubt. Aside from the obvious fact that a printed score would surely have borne a dedication in recognition of such a fabulous commission, we are now faced with the discovery that Goldberg the harpsichordist, who supposedly lulled the count to sleep with this work, was baptized in 1727, which would have made him twelve or thirteen when it was composed and fourteen when it was published. It may be quite true that he played Keyserling to sleep with this music, but it is far more likely to have been in the late 1740’s at the earliest and, sadly, probably from a copy purchased for a very much less princely sum.
19 March 2016 8:00 p.m. at Church of the Incarnation
The Dallas Bach Society
James Richman, Artistic Director
THE PASSION ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
BWV 245 (LEIPZIG 1723)
Dann Coakwell, Evangelist
David Grogan, Jesus
Nicholas Garza, Servus
Audrey Brown, Ancilla
Charles Moore, Pilatus
Jason Awbrey, Petrus
Claire Daniels, Soprano
Agnes Vojtko, Alto
Nicholas Garza, Tenor
Patrick Gnage, Bass
About the Program:
To herald his arrival in Leipzig in 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a dramatic setting of the story of Christ’s final hours which he called his Johannes-Passion, or Passion According to Saint John. No doubt anxious to establish from the outset his complete mastery of church music, he made the work an outpouring of human emotions surrounding the sacred story, depicting in lively settings the voice of Christ, the message of the Evangelist, as well as the human feelings of the chorus, who from time to time represent the pious Christian congregation, the forces of the Roman Empire, and the angry crowd of Jews desperate to have Christ crucified.
This multiplicity of roles for the chorus is entirely in keeping with he practice in Baroque opera, where the chorus as a rule took on whatever identity of massed characters was called for, turning from courtiers to soldiers, peasants, or exotic nations, without so much as a costume change! The illustration of character and emotion took precedence, and standard stage dress would be altered usually by no more than a character symbol held by each chorister. As Bach wrote no opera, having made the decision to devote himself to the perfection of church music, his two great passions in effect represent this genre for us in his complete works. It is in these compositions that his most telling examples of Baroque characterization are found, and they are indeed powerful.
The obvious problem with such dramatic works was that everyone already knew the story, and how it would end. Thus the elements of suspense and surprise are not available, and indeed Bach opens the second half of Saint John with a Chorale which tells virtually the entire plot in a few bars. It is a sign of his consummate power as a composer that it matters not at all that we know what will happen, as his illustration of it in sound is so moving that it draws our attention in and of itself.
Bach uses the devices of the opera to teach this holy lesson, with the addition of the unusual character of the apostle himself telling the story, as in the Bible. This role of the Evangelist, however, derives directly from the “Mercury” characters in other operas, always a high tenor, a messenger telling us a narrative, only here made into the most important character aside from Jesus himself. Jesus is represented by the bass voice, in keeping with the Baroque norm for all gods, sorcerers and the like (through Mozart’s Sarastro in the Magic Flute), but especially meaningful for Bach as the fundamental bass, from which grows all music like an overtone series. When the bass is missing in Bach, and the high overtone chromatics dominate, we are usually far from the Lord!
The arias are also employed as in opera, taking time out from the action to give us a picture of the state of mind and emotions of the solo singer, here representing a member of the Christian people. In Saint John, these are mostly contemplative on the part of various Christian people affected by aspects of the story, and range from the naive apostle singing “I follow you with joyous steps” with the sound of innocent flutes, to the extremely sad “It is fulfilled” when the death of Jesus is at hand, accompanied by a mournful solo gamba. In the end, however, Bach transcends opera to produce a moving rendition of Biblical Truth, confined by no particular form, but rather using every possible means to transmit the Word in music.
About the Artists:
DANN COAKWELL, Evangelist, tenor, is sought after as a performer of Bach, Handel, and their contemporaries, who specializes in J.S. Bach’s Evangelist and the tenor roles of Benjamin Britten. He can be heard as a soloist on the Grammy-winning Conspirare: The Sacred Spirit of Russia, 2014 (Harmonia Mundi) and Grammy-nominated Conspirare: A Company of Voices, 2009. Coakwell has performed as a soloist internationally and nationally under such acclaimed conductors as Helmuth Rilling, Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, Nicholas McGegan, Matthew Halls, John Scott, and Craig Hella Johnson. Coakwell has performed multiple times in New York’s Carnegie Hall, and he made his Lincoln Center New York solo debuts at both Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall to critical acclaim in 2014. He has appeared as a soloist with organizations such as Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart in Germany, Bach Collegium Japan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco, Oregon Bach Festival, and Conspirare.
DAVID GROGAN, Christus, bass, has performed extensively throughout the southwest, having appeared as a soloist with Dallas-Fort Worth area arts groups such as the Fort Worth Symphony, Dallas Bach Society, Plano Civic Chorus, Denton Bach Society, Texas Baroque Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Singers, Texas Camerata, Fort Worth Baroque Society, and several Texas universities. Recent performances include the Handel’s Messiah with Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys in NYC, Handel’s Acis and Galatea with Mountainside Baroque in Maryland, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, TX. The Dallas Morning News hailed Dr. Grogan as the “perfect Christus” after a performance of the Saint Matthew Passion with the Dallas Bach Society. The Albuquerque Tribune, in reference to a performance of Messiah with the New Mexico Symphony, said, “David Grogan had all the range and power required of the part, sounding like the voice of doom in “The people that walked in darkness” and the light of revelation in “The trumpet shall sound.” A performance of Elijah had critics praising his ability to “move easily from stentorian declamation to lyrical aria.” Another critic said that he “….brought an impressive vocal power to the lead role of Elijah, and his rich emotive gift set the level for the other chief performers.” The Dallas Morning News said “His meaty bass shook the heavens and the earth and sounded the trumpet with imposing conviction.”
CLAIRE DANIELS, soprano, is equally at home performing as a soloist, chamber musician, and choral singer. At the 2014 Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, she performed with Arethusa Musica in the Young Performer’s Festival, Battle of the Early Bands, and the Fringe. Recently relocated to Dallas, she was soon asked to join the Orpheus Chamber Singers. She has also performed with Ensemble VIII, Texas Early Music Project, ¡Sacabuche!, Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, the University of Texas Chamber Singers, Concentus, Pro Arte Singers, and also portrayed the role of Cupid in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis with the Indiana University Baroque Orchestra. She was a featured soloist on Glad Tidings of Great Joy, a Christmas special aired by Public Radio International. While pursuing a master’s degree in early music performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, she studied with Paul Elliott and Mary Ann Hart. She received her undergraduate degree in Choral Music Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
AGNES VOJTKO, Hungarian mezzo-soprano, has established herself as a versatile and genuine artist both on the operatic and concert stage. Currently she is teaching at Southwestern University while frequently engaged as a concert soloist. Recent appearances include Mahler’s Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with American Bach Soloists, Mass in B Minor and St. Matthew Passion with Dallas Bach Society and concerts with Houston Baroque. Last June she performed Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (Schoenberg version) at UC Davis. Agnes has appeared with Austin Lyric Opera, Opera in the Heights and in Hungary with Ars Classica Chamber Opera and Budapest Chamber Opera. After she completed a bachelor’s degree at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, she moved to the United States as a Fulbright fellow to attend The University of Texas at Austin, where she obtained the Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the guidance of Darlene Wiley.
NICHOLAS GARZA, tenor, studied at University of Texas at Arlington as a Vocal Performance major with Jing Ling-Tam and David Grogan. Originally from Harlingen, Texas, Nicholas was a four-year Texas All-State Mixed Choir member, an Outstanding Soloist for Texas State Solo Ensemble, and a Competition winner in Classical Voice/Tenor at the 2010 NFAA YoungARTS. He has performed with Mountainside Baroque in Maryland as the Tenor soloist for the Telemann oratorio Der Tod Jesu and also was alto soloist for the Big Moose Bach Festival in New Hampshire. He worked with noted singer and conductor Simon Carrington as a singing fellow at the 2011 and 2012 Norfolk Chamber Music Festival of Yale University. He performs with many professional groups around the Metroplex including the Dallas Bach Society, Orpheus Chamber Singers, Orchestra of New Spain, the Fort Worth Opera Chorus and Christ the King Catholic Church. He has been called a “stand-out soloist” by the Dallas Morning News and has been hailed for his “appealing tenor, sinewy in the lower register, sweetly soft-edged on high.”
PATRICK J. GNAGE, baritone, studied voice at the Eastman School of Music and holds two degrees in Voice Performance and Literature. Mr. Gnage has been featured as soloist in all of the major oratorios of J.S. Bach, as well as the oratorios and choral works of Handel, Monteverdi, Carissimi, Mozart, Vaughan Williams, and Duruflé, performing with such ensembles as The Publick Musick, Orchestra of New Spain, Rochester Bach Festival Chorus, Concert Royal and the Dallas Bach Society. A new addition to his repertoire this season is the role of Jesus in Bob Chilcott’s version of the St John Passion, heard at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Dallas. Patrick also appears on recordings released by Naxos American Classics and Sonabilis.
Friday evening, February 26 and Saturday Evening February 27, 8:00 p.m.
Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts
The Dallas Bach Society James Richman, Artistic Director with
Yatande Boko, Haitian Drums Joanna Lynn-Jacobs, Mezzo-Soprano James Andrewes, Violin Soloist Quartet Galant and
Contemporary Ballet Dallas Valerie Shelton Tabor, Artistic Director and Choreographer
Present: Le Mozart Noir: The Untold Story
Narrator: Brandon Chase McGee
Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Terrance Johnson
Marie Joseph, Love Interest: Addison Holmes
Father of the Chevalier: Bryan Cunningham
Mother of the Chevalier: Kirsten Hamm
Soul of the Slave: Darrell Cleveland
Fencing Instructor: Trevor Wright
Dancers: Colby Calhoun, Marielle McGregor, Stephen McMaryion, Laura Pearson, Sophi Siragusa, Lea Zablocki
Music by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de St. George, except as noted
Drums of the Indies
Yatande Boko, Drummer
Dancers: Colby Calhoun, Darrell Cleveland, Kirsten Hamm, Terrance Johnson, Marielle McGregor, Stephen McMaryion, Laura Pearson & Sophi Siragusa
The Opera House
“Son amour, sa constance extrême” from L’Amant anonyme, Chevalier de St-George
Joanna Lynn-Jacobs, Soprano
Trio of Mother, Son, Daughter Quartet in C minor – Allegro
Contredanse: “Le Saint-Georges”
(named for the Chevalier, composer unknown)
Reconstructed from period notation by Catherine Turocy
Dancers: Addison Holmes, Bryan Cunningham, Terrance Johnson, Marielle McGregor, Laura Pearson, Trevor Wright, and Lea Zablocki
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord
Learning to Fence
Quartet in G Minor – Allegro
Dance of Swooning Ladies
Quartet in C Major – Allegro assai
Aria: “Son amour, sa constance extrême” from L’Amant anonyme, Chevalier de St-George
Pas de Deux of the Chevalier & Marie Minuet & Interruption
The Struggle/Call to Action
Music composed by Mark Landson (2016) Dance of the Brigade
Violin Concerto in D, Opus 3 #1, Adagio
Violin Concerto in D, Opus 3 #1, Rondo
This production made possible in part with a generous grant from the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund of TACA.
Stage Manager: Natalie Young
Set Design: Scott Tatum
Technical Director: Carlos Castillo
Lighting Design: Suzanne Lavender
Costume Design: Fernando Hernandez
Dance of the Brigade: Stephen McMaryion
Project Dance Consultants: Catherine Turocy and Marcea Daiter
Production Coordinator for Booker T. Washington HS: Paul Bain
About the Program:
The story of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges is unique. The support of the New Works Fund has allowed us to attempt something more than just of concert of his music. Instead we have decided to present a more involved new creation with the hope of recreating the context of his life and times. Given the nature of eighteenth-century theater and dance, it would be extraordinarily difficult to tell his story through period forms – the narrative ballet was only being invented at this time, and its subject matter was not realistic or historical in any event.
Thus comes our decision to use a “modern” ballet in order to relate the Chevalier’s story for today’s audience, and its desire to go beyond the formalities of the Classic period in music history. In such a context it also necessary to go beyond the music of the period, and thus the decision to commission some new music from a composer who has worked with the choreographer, for the conflict sections of the ballet where Classic period music would seem too formal for today.
A final consideration is that it is most difficult even to produce a concert of music entirely by Classic period composers unless they happen to be named Mozart or Haydn, or happen to be sons of Sebastian Bach. It is so very odd that the Classical style, inspired by the rediscovery of Roman forms with the excavation of Pompeii in 1767, led to a total revolution in music which today is exemplified by two great geniuses, Haydn and Mozart, almost to the exclusion of their peers. While occasionally operas by Gluck, Cimarosa, and even Hasse, are performed, it is exceedingly rare for a symphony of Cannabich, Saint-Georges, or even Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach to be played in concert in our time!
Our ballet as imagined by Ms. Shelton Tabor is designed to illustrate the rich fabric of the Chevalier’s life and times, and its meaning for today’s artistic world, using today’s dance forms, and employing music of the Chevalier and his era, as well as some new music by Mark Landson based on historical models. Our profound thanks go to the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund of TACA for their generous support of this project.
Joseph Bologne, known as the Chevalier de St. Georges, was born in 1745, the son of a French planter in the West Indies and an African servant. Taken to Paris at age seven by his father to be educated, he became an excellent violinist and a swordsman of the highest caliber, and was a noted personality in Paris for a long time. Having been a star student starting at age thirteen at the Academie royale polytechnique des armes et de l’equitation, he defeated at the age of seventeen the head of a rival academy, thus making his reputation. On the other hand, we know nothing precise about his musical education, although it is clear he must have studied the violin assiduously. In 1764, the composer Antonio Lolli composed two violin concertos for him, and in 1766 the renowned Francois-Joseph Gossec dedicated a set of six Trios to him, so clearly his talents were developed early and blossomed alongside his military prowess.
When his father returned to Guadaloupe in 1764 after the Seven Years War, he left Joseph and his mother well set up in Paris with a large annuity. When he graduated the Academie royale in 1766 he was made a Gendarme du roi and a Chevalier, took his father’s Saint-Georges (actually the name of one of his plantations settled on him when he was made a Gentleman of the King’s Chamber in 1757), and thenceforth was known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
In 1769 he joined Gossec’s newly-formed orchestra Le concert des amateurs, and by 1771 was the concertmaster. The following year he performed his first two concertos, with Gossec conducting, to great applause. In the following eight years, he composed three sets of six string quartets (the first such composed in France), fourteen violin concertos, two symphonies, eight sinfonia concertantes, followed by six operas comiques, a truly prodigious amount of music considering the extent of his other activities. In 1773 Gossec took over the troubled Concert spirituel, and named the Chevalier as his successor at the Amateurs. In less than two years under his direction, this orchestra became the most disciplined group in Paris since Lully’s time, with a reputation all over Europe. Queen Marie-Antoinette attended their concerts at the Palais de Soubise, and as she sometimes appeared without warning, the musicians took to wearing court attire at all times. As a contemporary source reported: “Dressed in rich velvet or damask with gold or silver braid and fine lace on their cuffs and collars and with their parade swords and plumed hats placed next to them on their benches, the combined effect was as pleasing to the eye as it was flattering to the ear.”
When his father, who had returned to Guadaloupe, died in 1774, the annuity he had bestowed on the Chevalier was assigned to his legitimate half-sister, and he had to cease donating his services to the Amateurs, who commenced paying him generously, based on how the orchestra had become the largest and most prestigious ensemble in Europe.
In 1781, the Amateurs were disbanded for financial reasons, but the Chevalier appealed to his friend and fencing partner the Duke of Chartres, who had recently united the Masonic organizations in France, and the Duke revived the orchestra as part of la Loge Olympique, an exclusive Freemason lodge. As Le Concert Olympique, it performed in the grand salon of the Palais Royal, with essentially the same musicians. In 1785 the Count D’Ogny, grandmaster of the lodge and member of the cello section, authorized the Chevalier to commission a set of symphonies from Franz Josef Haydn, his Paris Symphonies, which were premiered in a large hall with the Chevalier conducting before the large public interested in Haydn’s work. The Chevalier also negotiated with Haydn for his commission, which was quite generous, and included an extra sum for residuals – normally composers got nothing once their pieces were out in the world.
The one instance where racial discrimination affected the career of the Chevalier occurred when his name was put forward by a “consortium of capitalists” (according to Baron Grimm) to take over the trouble Academie royal de musique (the Paris Opera). It seems that three of the sopranos, perhaps alarmed by the discipline the Chevalier imposed on his ensembles, petitioned the Queen to the effect that they could not be expected to take direction from a black man. The Chevalier immediately withdrew his name from consideration to avoid embarrassing the Queen, but the fallout from the affair led Louis XVI to take back the institution from the city of Paris (it had been given to the city by Louis XIV almost a century before), and led the Queen to have her musicales in the privacy of her chambers at Versailles, where the audience was her private circle and only a few musicians were invited to play. She probably played piano with the Chevalier playing the violin in his sonatas.
In 1785 the Duke of Orleans died, and the Chevalier’s friend the Duke of Chartres acceded to this title. With his old circle unable to help him, the Chevalier was once again saved by his friend, who set him up in an apartment in the Palais Royal, where he inevitably was drawn into the plots to make France a constitutional monarchy under the Duke, a path seen by the Orleanist side as the only way to avoid a bloody revolution. The story of the Chevalier becomes very complicated politically at this point, as he became an important player, sent to London, and eventually returning to France to lead what became known as the Legion Saint-Georges, the regiment of blacks fighting for the Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, starting in 1792.
Dallas Bach Society (DBS) announces a new ballet, Le Mozart Noir: The Untold Story, to premiere February 26-27, 2016, 8:00pm, at the Montgomery Arts Theater of The Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts (BTWHSVA).
Dallas Bach Society presents Le Mozart Noir in collaboration with Contemporary Ballet Dallas (CBD) in a special evening on the life and times of the illustrious Joseph Boulogne. The concert features live music, including both period music led by DBS Director James Richman and original composition by Mark Landson of Open Classical. Valerie Tabor of CBD is chief choreographer, while period social dance has been restaged by New York Baroque Dance Company Director Catherine Turocy. Consulting for the project is Haitian dance expert Marcea Daiter.
Artistic Director James Richman says, “Though the story is individual to the Chevalier, the ballet explores in vignettes the universal struggle to find oneself. It is a story we can all appreciate.” This unique evening, funded by a grant from the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund of TACA, will be performed on February 26-27, 2016 at the BTHSPVA in their fabulous Montgomery Arts Theater.
The Chevalier’s life story and work are rich indeed, but not often written about in the books. Later famously known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Boulogne was the son of a French planter of the nobility in the Caribbean and a woman of African heritage. The Chevalier’s talent and intelligence led to his advancement, where he was an important musical figure. He became a champion fencer, skillful equestrian, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony in Paris in the 18th century. The Chevalier was composing contemporaneous with Mozart and became known as Le Mozart Noir among the French bourgeoisie. He conducted the premieres of Franz Josef Haydn’s Paris Symphonies with his Orchestre de la Loge Olympique. Women swooned for his exotic features and superb talent. During the French Revolution, he became a colonel of the Legion St. Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the Republic.
Tickets are currently on sale to the general public at http://www.dallasbach.org.
About the Dallas Bach Society
The Dallas Bach Society was formed in 1982 to promote and encourage instrumental, choral, vocal, operatic, chamber, and keyboard music composed before 1800 through live performances in Dallas and its vicinity. Since its founding, the Society has been the city’s primary resource for early music performances by professional musicians. Instrumentalists perform on replicas of instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Chorus is trained in the vocal style and performance practice of the period. National and international soloists specializing in the interpretation of Baroque join musicians to present the highest level of choral, chamber, and orchestral productions each season. The Dallas Bach Society’s season consists of ten traditional concerts and more intimate chamber concerts are offered in private homes. The Dallas Bach Society is a member of the Association of Professional Vocal Ensembles, The Neue Bach Gesellschaft, and was a founding member of Early Music America. Learn more at dallasbach.org
About Contemporary Ballet Dallas
Contemporary Ballet Dallas, CBD, is a unique dance company for a unique city and was founded in 2000 by SMU dance alumnae. CBD performs a diverse repertoire of modern, ballet, and jazz influenced works that inspire the North Texas community. The company’s progressive, diverse & contemporary style combines with a variety of musical genres, in turn, engaging a broader audience. Utilizing professional dancers and recent college graduates, concerts are billed for the everyday man, as well as dance enthusiasts interested in a full spectrum of dance styles. CBD has received favorable reviews from dance critics throughout the area and continues to be recognized throughout the local dance scene. CBD provides a platform for emerging artists to set works at no cost to them, performs at local community performances and art festivals, serves as entertainment for charity events, and continues to present community outreach programs to underserved students through our Chance to Dance educational initiatives. Learn more at http://www.contemporaryballetdallas.com
About Catherine Turocy of New York Baroque Dance Company
Catherine Turocy, recognized as one of today’s leading choreographer, re-constructors and stage directors in 17th and 18th century period performance, has over 60 Baroque operas to her credit. She co-founded New York Baroque Dance Company in 1976 and continues as the Artistic Director today. She has been decorated by the French Republic as a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. She received the prestigious BESSIE Award in New York City for sustained achievement in choreography as well as the Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence. NEA International Exchange Fellowships supported extended visits where she lived in London and Paris, conducting research and interacting with other artists. Ms. Turocy began her studies of historical dance as a freshman with Dr. Shirley Wynne at Ohio State University where she graduated magna cum laude. A founding member of the Society for Dance History Scholars, she has lectured on period performance practices around the world. As a writer she has contributed chapters to dance history text books, articles to Opera News, Early Music America and Dance Magazine, many which have been translated into French, German, Japanese and Korean. Learn more at http://www.nybaroquedance.org
About Marcea Daiter
Ms. Daiter is a choreographer, performing artist, dance educator and artistic director of New York-based dance theater company Kaleidoscope of Kultures DanceTheater. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor in the Dance Education Program at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, teaching African Dance and Intercultural Studies. Ms. Daiter received an M.F.A. degree in Dance from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1992 and her B.A. degree in Sociology from Loyola University of Chicago in 1975. Her field-study trips to Africa, Cuba, Mexico, Haiti – and nationally at the Katherine Dunham Institute of Intercultural Studies (1995-2006) and Jacob’s Pillow (1996/1999) – have influenced her methodology. Ms. Daiter is a licensed Teacher of Dance in New York State and has taught contemporary (modern/jazz), classical ballet, and Afro-Caribbean for the New York City Department of Education public school system (5th-12th grade), Borough of Manhattan City College, City College, Long Island University, Hofstra University, and Movement for Actors in the Graduate Acting Department at Tisch School of the Arts. She is certified to teach the Zena Rommett Floor Barre Technique, the Method and Mat work of Joseph Pilates, and the technique of Katherine Dunham. Learn more at http:// steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/dance
About Mark Landson
Based in Dallas, TX, Mark Landson’s passion is in the ongoing flourishing community of supporters, fans, and performers which has enabled the organization Open Classical to fulfill its mission of putting classical music into the heart of everyday popular culture. A lifetime commitment to classical music combined with an entrepreneurial drive, Mark has brought a dream to life with Open Classical. His vision is to provide an opportunity for musicians to hone their skills while simultaneously creating a new experience for fans and performers. His creativity, leadership and love for story-telling is central to the spirit of the organization. Mr. Landson attended Eastman School of Music and works as composer and violinist at Neo Camerata. Learn more at http://www.openclassical.org
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31 December, 2015 at 7:00 pm – Church of the Incarnation
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH on NEW YEAR’S EVE
Cantata 150: Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich
Ouverture #2 in B Minor for Flute and Strings
Cantata 55: Ich armer Mensch, ich Sundenknecht
Aria (Soprano): Schafe können sicher weiden (Sheep may safely graze) (Cantata 208)
Duet (Soprano, Alto): Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten (Cantata 78)
Chorale: Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man’s desiring) (Cantata 147)
The Dallas Bach Society wishes one and all a Happy and prosperous New Year!
About the Program:
This evening’s program features a variety of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works including both vocal and instrumental music. The opening piece, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich is an early cantata which for a time was considered a dubious work. More recently it has been finally accepted as authentic, with a date of composition around 1707, making it one of the very earliest cantatas extant. There has even been speculation that the final ciaccona, resembling a work of Buxtehude’s, might mark this work as a tombeau or remembrance piece dedicated to the memory of the great North German composer Dietrich Buxtehude, organist at Lübeck, where Bach walked 200 miles to visit the great man and indeed overstayed the leave he had permission for, being so anxious to drink up every possible idea and experience from his trip.
In any event, the cantata numbered as 150 by the original Bach Gesellschaft edition published in 1884 is clearly grounded in earlier, seventeenth-century, works and has little in common with the form of the Leipzig series of cantatas from the 1720’s. There is no chorale, and indeed there is no obvious occasion in the church calendar for the work, making it in ogni tempo as is said of pieces that are good for any time. It starts with an introductory Sinfonia which was set off as a separate movement by the BG, but is really just an introduction to the first, fugal choral movement, whose downward chromatic scale is a typical Baroque statement of grief. This is followed by a number of episodic sections, each on a different phrase of the text, much in the earlier style. Unusual also, but typical of Bach, is the chorus with an upward scale on the words “Leite mich” (lead me), forming a “Leiter” (ladder) from the bass through all four parts into the two violins. There is also a trio movement featuring an obligato bassoon, again cleverly worked out, as well as the aforementioned chaconne, a final plea to God to help us keep striving.
The Ouverture #2 for Flute and Strings is the second of four pieces ofter referred to as Bach’s Orchestral Suites, but which Bach himself called Ouvertüren. This is truly a better description, as a Baroque suite is normally composed of an Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue, with extra “optional” dances like minuets and gavottes, and possibly a prelude of some sort. Indeed, in his harpsichord Partitas, which were published as a kind of “Last Word” on the Suite form, Bach includes just about every possible “optional” dance and prelude, along with the variations on the allemande, courante, etc. as they were to be found in his day. Nowhere, however, does the basic underlying structure of Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue go away, even though he is consciously exploring every possible variant of the form.
The answer is to be found precisely in the Baroque Overture form! Opera (and oratorio) overtures were more than just the two-part form consisting of a slower introduction, often with dotted rhythms giving rise to the “French Overture” definition, and the faster, usually fugal second section. Sometimes this was the extent of the Overture, but a quick glance at Handel’s opera overtures, for instance, reveals many examples of extra, seemingly random, dance movements added in, perhaps to allow more patrons to find their seats. In Il Pastor Fido, for instance, there is a rondeau in concerto grosso form with double reed concertino, followed by a bourrée. The record for extra movements is held by the overture to Rodrigo, where the usual slow-fast overture movement is succeeded by a gigue, a sarabande, matelot, menuet, bourrée, a second bourrée, a second minuet, and finally a passacaglia. Only then does the opera get underway!
This is the form Bach is imitating with his collection of seemingly unconnected movements following the overture movement. Again, there is no allemande or courante, so no traditional suite, but Bach provides a typical collection for this kind of overture, with a pair of rather unusual movements in the polonaise and the badinerie, a kind of gossipy conversation. The featured flute has several extended solos, although sometimes it simply joins the string group, providing an unusual and pleasing timbre.
Cantata 55 is for a solo tenor, although it does have a chorale at the end. It was written in 1726 for Trinity Time, in which period Bach wrote cantatas featuring all four solo voices in the six available cantata “slots”. It is also interesting that all of the other Bach cantatas for solo tenor have in the end turned out not to be by Bach – these include Cantata 160, which turns out to be by Telemann, Cantata 189, by Melchior Hoffmann, as well as Cantata 53 also by Hoffmann. Our cantata consists of two arias and two recitatives, plus the chorus finale; the flute plays an important part in both, with an especially virtuosic obligato line in the second aria. The text once again speaks of a man who is a “slave to sin” and must find his way, imploring God’s mercy.
Our finale this evening consists of three famous vocal works, which will surely be familiar to all, and with which we bid farewell to a fruitful year 2015, with hopes and prayers that 2016 will be similarly blessed.