Sunday, April 6, 2014

Concert Review / Montgomery Chorale and Atlanta Baroque Symphony under the direction of Rebecca Taylor

So, last night I drive up to Montgomery to hear the Atlanta Baroque Symphony and the Montgomery Chorale under the direction of Becky Taylor perform flawlessly the Bach Mass in B minor. This almost 3 hour concert was done in its entirety, when some times parts are left out due to the very length of the piece. Becky (Rebecca Taylor) arm must have been sore after the beautiful and tranquil, yet energetic at times, Mass in B minor because she never missed a beat if her butterfly arm movements conducting and Chorale and the Symphony. I swear, if the Montgomery Advertiser does not give her, the Chorale and the ABS a flawless review, they should be horse whipped. Because my and everyone "bravo" and 5 minute plus standing ovation meant something. If you missed it, you missed a treat but maybe I may oblige and offer a play by play dissertation as to what you missed. Once again an absolute great performance to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by the hand of J.S. Bach and the again flawless epic ear candy provided by the Montgomery Chorale and the Atlanta Baroque Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Rebecca Taylor.    

The Montgomery Chorale :

Montgomery has been blessed by the arts, and in the case of the choral arts, it has been especially blessed to receive 40 years of professional quality music from the Montgomery Chorale, one of the city’s oldest musical performing arts organization and its official performing choral group. The Chorale has made a significant contribution to the musical enrichment of the community.

The Chorale’s dedication to presenting professional quality choral performances and its requirement that all members must audition in order to participate have helped produce a musically compatible blend of voices at ease with any musical composition from Beethoven to Berlin.
For all of its national and international accomplishments, the Chorale’s first priority is the citizens of Montgomery and the surrounding region, and it has been involved in a broad range of community events, including Jubilee Weekend, the Christmas Light Show at the Montgomery Zoo, Festival in the Park, Zoo Weekend, and in working jointly in concerts with other arts organizations, including the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, whose members frequently accompany Chorale concerts, the Alabama Dance Theater, and the Montgomery Ballet.
atlanta baroque symphony orchestraThe Chorale’s audiences have been the real beneficiaries of the group’s unique ability to master both classical and popular compositions, from Mozart to Gershwin. Year in and year out, the Chorale’s talented singers have provided something for everyone.
Montgomery is a city rich in tradition, and it is replete with landmarks glorifying that tradition. One of its finest and oldest musical performing arts traditions is the Montgomery Chorale, still young at 40 and looking forward to many more years and many more generations of music lovers to entertain.

The Montgomery Chorale is under direction of Rebecca (Becky) Taylor

Becky is the Director of Music Ministries, Organist, and Choirmaster at Church of the Ascension in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 2000, she earned a Master of Music Degree in Organ Performance and Choral Conducting at the University of Alabama, studying with Warren Hutton and Sandra Willetts. Prior to studying in Tuscaloosa, she had served at Ascension since 1984 as both Organist and Choir Director. Her under-graduate degree is in Music Education from Florida State University.

Becky's musical background is varied, including her two-year tenure as the initial director (and current board member) of the Montgomery-based Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts, which trains teachers in discipline-based arts education. She has taught music at both The Montgomery Academy and Saint James School. In addition to teaching summer programs and working with Jubilee and Children's Theatre for the City of Montgomery, she was founding director of the Montgomery Area Girls' Chorus. She has performed with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Montgomery Symphony, among numerous performances as solo performer, accompanist, and conductor.
Becky served as accompanist for many years for the Montgomery Chorale and served as interim-director for the 1998-1999 season. She has been musical director for the Jasmine Hills Arts Council, helping to direct and produce five shows. While in Tuscaloosa, she was the organist at Christ Episcopal Church and was invited to prepare the choruses for the world premiere of a work written to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King by internationally recognized composer Gunther Schüller. She currently serves as Sub-Dean of the Montgomery Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and serves in the Department of Liturgy and Music for the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

The Atlanta Baroque Symphony Orchestra: 

atlanta baroque symphony orchestra

atlanta baroque symphony orchestra

The Atlanta Baroque Orchestra (ABO), founded in 1997 in Atlanta, Georgia, is the first and oldest professional orchestra in the Southeastern United States of America dedicated to historically informed performance, (also called "authentic performance practice") of music from the Baroque era on period instruments. The Atlanta Baroque Orchestra gave its premiere concert in January, 1998. The first Director of the ABO was lute and theorbo player Lyle Nordstrom, who departed in 2003. As several guest directors were brought in for concerts, John Hsu, noted performer on the viola da gamba and baryton, took the title of Artistic Advisor, becoming Artistic Director in July 2004; he continued through the 2008-2009 season. From 2004 through 2011, the Resident Director was founding member Daniel Pyle, harpsichordist and organist, and also Instructor of Music at Clayton State University and Organist and Choir Director at the Anglican Church of Our Saviour in Atlanta. Violinist, dancer and choreographer Julie Andrijeski became Artistic Director in February, 2011.[1]
The ABO usually performs four to six concerts per year, concentrating on orchestral works and concerti, but often featuring chamber piecesvocal cantatas, and other works with vocal soloists. The range of works performed by the ABO stretches back to the beginnings of Baroque style around the year 1600, while their core repertoire is centered in music from many composers who worked in the Middle Baroque era of Pachelbel and Corelli (the late 1600s) and the High Baroque era of Vivaldi, Bach, Handel and Telemann (up through 1750). They have also performed the music of Mozart and Haydn, and the string symphonies of Mendelssohn from the 1820s.
Several concerts have featured the orchestra accompanying Baroque dancers. Most performers with the ABO are university instructors and professors with advanced degrees, and all are specialists in authentic performance practice, playing replicas of the actual instruments used in the Baroque era. Such an ensemble produces a sound that is quite different from that of ensembles that use modern orchestral instruments. Baroque violins, violas and cellos use strings of sheep gut and bows of an earlier design, rather than the louder string instruments strung with steel strings played by conventional orchestras. Likewise, the Baroque flute is made of wood and does not have keys, while the Baroque horn (often called the natural horn) has no valves. Other instruments featured in a Baroque orchestra include the harpsichord and lautenwerk, viola da gamba and bass viol, recorderBaroque bassoon, lute and theorbo.
Because of the relatively small number of musicians who specialize in playing Baroque-era instruments, the ABO consists of a smaller core of regular musicians who live in the Atlanta area, supplemented for each concert by performers and featured soloists brought in from throughout the United States of America and occasionally from overseas.
Guest artists and directors have included leading Baroque and Classical-period performers: violinists Stanley Ritchie, Monica HuggettSergiu Luca, and Dana Maiben; Paul O'Dette, lute; Aldo Abreu, recorder; soprano Julianne Baird;  Stephen Rickards, countertenor; oboist Matthew Peaceman; and Baroque dancers Paige Whitley-Bauguess and Thomas Baird.
Signatory concerts of the ABO include the first performances in Atlanta on period instruments of:
and a year-long celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart in 2006. In 2009, they devoted concerts to the symphonies of Haydn, celebrating the 300th anniversary of his birth.
In addition to its own concerts, the orchestra has performed in collaboration with other organizations throughout the Southeast, including at conferences of the National Flute Convention, the American Musicological Society, and the Southeast Historical Keyboard Society. The ABO has performed on the campuses of Emory University, the University of GeorgiaFlorida State UniversityKennesaw State UniversityClayton College and State UniversityOglethorpe University, and Valdosta State University. The ABO has performed in venues in Birmingham, AlabamaPensacola, FloridaRome, Georgia, and Conyers, Georgia. The orchestra has also partnered with choral organizations including the Emory Concert Choir, Atlanta Choral Artists, the Schola Cantorum of Atlanta, Clayton State Collegiate Chorale, Clayton Camerata, Dekalb Choral Guild, the Westminster Choir, Chandler Choraliers, and choirs from Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Intown Community Church in Atlanta, and Independent Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama.
To date the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra has not released any recordings.
(borrowed from their website

Bach - Mass in B minor / Montgomery Chorale, Atlanta Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Rebecca (Becky) Taylor. April 5th, 2014.  Saint John Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. 
++ Sold out performance: 
I drive up to Montgomery with my friend Gene to hear the Atlanta Baroque Symphony and the Montgomery Chorale under the direction of Becky Taylor and it was absolutely performed flawlessly. The Bach Mass in B minor starts in a minor key of B minor and increases in excitement and tension until it culminates into a B major ending. It is very eye opening and very moving. I wiped tears from my eyes many times at the beauty this piece brings and if it is done exceptionally well, as it was tonight.  
It started a little past 7 PM, as it was SOLD OUT and folks were still coming in at 7PM, but tickets being 50 and 25 dollars, people were able to come on in and experience this 3 hour concert. It was done in its entirety, when some times parts are left out due to the very length of the piece. Becky (Rebecca Taylor) arm must have been sore after the beautiful and tranquil, yet energetic at times, because she never missed a beat.  Her butterfly arm movements conducting and Chorale and the Symphony seemed as poetry in motion. I swear, if the Montgomery Advertiser does not give her, the Chorale and the ABS a flawless review, they should be horse whipped. Because my and everyone "bravo" and 5 minute plus standing ovation meant something. 
If you missed it, you missed a treat but perhaps I may oblige and offer a play by play dissertation as to what you missed. Once again an absolute great performance to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by the hand of J.S. Bach and the again flawless epic ear candy provided by the Montgomery Chorale and the Atlanta Baroque Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Rebecca Taylor.

First and Foremost - The ABSO used period instruments. Cat gut strings on the stringed instruments (meant adjusting several times throughout the concert and valveless brass wind instruments that needed (well lets just say the "spit" knocked out of them several times" Here is the review:

The Mass in B minor - J.S. Bach

Kyrie (Kyrie eleison) "Lord, have mercy" Chorus

Christie "Christ, have mercy" duet sopranos Erin Joyce and Janet Gibson
*(Erin and Janet will be stars in a few years of opera or church worship music, both are excellent)

Kyrie "Lord, have mercy" Chorus

Gloria "Glory to God in the highest" Chorus

Laudamus te "We praise You" - aria soprano Janet Gibson

Gratoas "We give you thanks" Chorus

Domine Deus "Lord God, King of Heaven" duet soprano and tenor Turia Stark 
Williams and John Martin
*(Turia is a fine soprano, no flaws and projects very well. Ok, this tenor (John Martin) is fine, dare I say great. His angelic yet masculine voice is that of a young Paul Groves but is so strong, truly his voice is unbelievable, I almost want to jump the pew), WOW !! 

Qui Tollis "Who takes the sins of the world" Chorus

Qui sedes "Who sits at the right hand of God"   aria alto Lauren Simpson
*(I most likely could hear Lauren sing all night long) Wow what a great alto voice, strong and delicate both at the same time.

Quoniam "For You alone are worthy"  aria bass Bill Taylor
*(I've heard Bill sing many times and he's like wine or cheese, the older he gets the better his voice is, great flawless piece of music by Bill)

Cum Sancto "With the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father"   Chorus

Credo "I believe in one God"     Chorus

Patrem omnipotentem "the Father, the Almighty"     Chorus

Et in unnum "and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God" duet soprano and alto Erica Jenkins and Lauren Simpson

Et incarnatus "By the power of the Holy Spirit"    Chorus

Crucifixus "for our sake he was crucified"       Chorus     


Et resurrexit "on the third day, He arose"     Chorus

Et in Spiritum "and I believe in the Holy Spirit" aria bass Bill Taylor  

Confiteor "I acknowledge one baptism"     Chorus

Sanctus "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts"   Chorus

Osanna "Hosannah in the highest"     Chorus

Benedictus "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord"  aria tenor John Martin

Osanna "Hosannah in the highest"    Chorus

Agnus Dei "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world"  aria alto Lauren Simpson

Dona nobis pacem " grant us peace"    Chours    (in B major), was exciting as an ending should be and bravos and applause filled St. John's.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Roberto Abbado Acclaimed as “a conductor you want to hear again and again"

Roberto Abbado and myself (signing my autograph)
Acclaimed as “a conductor you want to hear again and again”, Roberto Abbado’s crisp, dramatic music-making, instinctive lyricism and evocative command of varied composers and styles have made him an esteemed conductor among orchestras and opera companies today. He is both a sophisticated and energetic conductor, which, combined with superb communicative skills have made him a favourite among musicians and public alike.In 2009 Mr. Abbado was honoured with the “Franco Abbiati” award of the National Association of Italian Music Critics – Italy’s most prestigious classical music award – as Conductor of the Year, “for the maturity of interpretation and for his breadth and curiosity of repertoire, in which he has delivered remarkable results and an intensity which was manifested in La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart (Teatro Regio Torino) executed using classical period performance practices; in the contemporary opera Phaedra by Hans Werner Henze (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino); in Rossini’s Ermione (Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro); and for the rare Der Vampyr of Heinrich Marschner (Teatro Comunale Bologna)”.A popular figure in the United States, Mr. Abbado’s most extensive relationship is currently with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where he is an Artistic Partner, a position that has now been extended into an unprecedented third three-year term. He has performed regularly with the Atlanta and St. Louis symphony orchestras and has appeared often with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, as well as with New York City’s Orchestra of St. Luke’s.Roberto Abbado began season 2012-13 with Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Bari’s historic Teatro Petruzzelli staged by Mario Martone, followed by Ponchielli’s La Gioconda at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera in a new production by Pierluigi Pizzi. He has opened the Verdi’s year with a new production of Macbeth by Bob Wilson at Teatro Comunale in Bologna and then he took on tour to Hong Kong the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples performing La Traviata staged by Ferzan Özpetek and an all Verdi program. Mr. Abbado has also conducted a new production of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte staged by Davide Livermore at Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari.On the concert platform he conducted, among others, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai (all Verdi program), Orchestra del Teatro Comunale in Bologna (Britten, Lutoslawski and Dvořák), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Schubert, Mendelsshon, Rossini), Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Mozart, Strauss), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Schumann, Fedele, Schubert).Roberto Abbado’s 2011-12 season included a triumphal performance of Rossini’s La Donna del Lago at la Scala, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust staged by Terry Gilliam at Teatro Massimo in Palermo and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena staged by Graham Vick at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In 2012 Mr. Abbado was awarded again by the National Association of Italian Music Critics with the Franco Abbiati Prize for Mosè in Egitto at the Rossini Opera Festival as “Best performance and production”.Born into a dynastic musical family, his grandfather was a famous pedagogue of violin, his father was director of the Milan Conservatory, and uncle is Claudio Abbado, the esteemed maestro.
Roberto Abbado and Scott Gamble
Gamble Music Production and Archive
Roberto Abbado studied with renowned conducting teacher Franco Ferrara at Venice’s La Fenice and Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, where he was the only student in the the Accademia’s history to be invited to conduct the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia. As Chief Conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra (1991-98) he made seven recordings with the orchestra, and has worked extensively elsewhere in Europe including the Royal Concertgebouww, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Dresden Staatskapelle, Gewandhaus Orchester (Leipzieg), NDR Symphony Orchestra (Hamburg), Vienna Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony, and Israel Philarmonic Orchestras. In his native Italy, he has particularly strong relationships with the great orchestras, and regularly conducts the Filarmonica della Scala (Milan), Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Orchestra del Maggio Musicale (Florence) and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI (Torino).Mr. Abbado made his North American concert debut it 1991 with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the Lincoln Center in New York. Since then he has returned regularly conducting many top orchestras. As a gifted accompanist conductor he collaborates with many of today’s most respected soloists including violinists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Kennedy, Midori, Vadim Repin, Gil Shaham, and pianists Alfred Brendel, Yefim Bronfman, Lang Lang, Radu Lupu, Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Andre Watts, duo pianists Katia & Marielle Labèque, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to name but a few.Well known for his work in opera, Mr. Abbado has led many new productions and world premieres, including Fedora at the Metropolitan Opera (New York); I Vespri Siciliani at Vienna Staatsoper; La Gioconda and Lucia di Lammermoor at Teatro alla Scala (Milan); L’Amour des trois oranges, Aida and La Traviata for the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich); Simon Boccanegra and La Clemenza di Tito with the Teatro Regio di Torino; Le Comte Ory, Attila, I Lombardi and Henze’s Phaedra at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; La Donna del Lago at the Paris Opéra; Don Giovanni at the Deutsche Oper (Berlin).Mr. Abbado is also well known as a passionate interpreter of modern and contemporary music. As a natural advocate for Italian composers, he frequently programs works by Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, and Goffredo Petrassi, and contemporary Italians such as Sylvano Bussotti, Niccolò Castiglioni, Azio Corghi, Ivan Fedele, Luca Francesconi, Giorgio Battistelli, Michele Dall’Ongaro, Giacomo Manzoni, Salvatore Sciarrino, and notably Fabio Vacchi, for whom Mr. Abbado conducted the world premiere of his new Teneke at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in 2007. Not limited to Italian contemporary music, he also explores the music of French contemporary composers Pascal Dusapin, Henri Dutilleux and Olivier Messiaen, Russian Alfred Schnittke, German Hans Werner Henze and Helmut Lachenmann and, in part due to his extensive travels among North American orchestras, an eclectic assortment of this continent’s living composers from Ned Rorem to Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, Charles Wuorinen.A prolific recording conductor, Mr. Abbado has made several recording for BMG (RCA Red Seal) including award winning performances of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (BBC Magazine “Pick of the Year 1999”) and Rossini’s Tancredi (Echo Klassic Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1997). He recorded a recital disc of 19th century arias for Decca with tenor Juan Diego Flórez and the Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, titled The Rubini Album, and most recently a recital album titled Bel Canto with mezzo soprano Elīna Garanča, on Deutsche Grammophon (Echo Klassic Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 2009).Other BMG releases include Don Pasquale with Renato Bruson, Eva Mei, Frank Lopardo and Thomas Allen; Turandot with Eva Martona, Ben Heppner and Margaret Price; and a disc of ballet music from Verdi operas. He has also recorded the two Liszt piano concerti with soloist Gerhard Oppitz; a collection of great tenor arias with Ben Heppner and a CD of opera scenes with Carol Vaness, both with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester. For Decca, he has recorded Verismo Arias with Mirella Freni and for the Stradivarius Label two world premieres recordings by contemporary Italian composer Luca Francesconi – Cobalt, Scarlet and Rest. On DVD, Deutsche Grammophon has released Fedora with Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo from the Metropolitan Opera New York; Dynamic has released Rossini Ermione from the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro; and Hardy Classic Video the New Year Concert 2008 from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The last releases in 2012 have been a DVD of Rossini’s Zelmira for Decca with Juan Diego Flórez, Kate Aldrich and Gregory Kunde, and a DVD of Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto with Sonia Ganassi, Dmitry Korchak, Riccardo Zanellato and Alex Esposito, staged by Graham Vick, on Opus Arte.Mr. Abbado has led many orchestras in a number of international tours; notably the Israel Philharmonic (Spain 2005), the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Europe 2006), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Europe 2007), Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Enescu Festival, Bucharest 2009), the Orchestra Verdi di Milano (Switzerland 2009). The Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo (Russia 2011) and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (USA East Coast 2011).