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Victoria Bach Festival celebrates 35th anniversary

APRILL BRANDON

By APRILL BRANDON
June 6, 2010 at 1:06 a.m.

Catherine Clarke performed at the noon concert for New Young Artist for the Bach Festival in 2009. Clarke, a soprano, sang selections from Mozart to Puccini.

It's a historic year for the Victoria Bach Festival. The week-long musical event will celebrate its 35th anniversary.

"This year is very special. It's an incredible anniversary to mark," artistic director Craig Hella Johnson said. "It's a delight knowing that Victoria has nurtured this festival so strongly all these years."

The Bach Festival officially kicks off on Tuesday and will continue in various locations throughout the city until Saturday. Each day there will be two concerts, a free noon performance and a ticketed 7:30 p.m. performance, featuring classical music and world-class musicians from around the country.

Among the highlights this year are Saturday night's finale, which will feature not only the Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra, but also the Grammy-nominated choral ensemble Conspirare, Johnson said. Featuring Johan Sebastian Bach's Mass in B Minor, it is among not only the composer's most important work, but also one of the most significant masterpieces in Western culture, he added.

"It's a towering masterpiece in Western culture, and this is a very special opportunity to hear this work, which is like the mountaintop of choral music," Johnson said.

Another highlight is the festival's first noon concert on Tuesday, Big Sing, where the spectators will become the performers. Featuring a wide-array of well-known songs, from the patriotic to folk music, the audience is invited to sing along with the professionals.

Among the other highlights of the week is Wednesday's 35th anniversary concert, which will celebrate not only the festival's birth, but also the birthday of famous composers who share 2010 as a landmark year, Johnson said.

Thursday's evening concert will feature the Bach's popular Brandenburg Concertos, which will be played on period instruments that would have been used back in Bach's time.

Thursday will also feature the New Young Artists concert with burgeoning musicians soprano Erin English and guitarist Thales Smith.

Friday evening will have longtime Bach festival performer and virtuosic pianist Melissa Marse performing works by Chopin in honor of the composer's 100th birthday and Saturday at noon a screening of the film "Bach and Friends" will be at the Victoria Public Library.

For more information, tickets or the full festival schedule, call 361-570-5788, or 361-572-2787 or go to www.victoriabachfestival.org.

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