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Bach chamber concert receives standing ovation


June 11, 2010 at 1:11 a.m.

Three violists performed in the opening piece Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 in G major during Thursday's 35th anniversary Bach Festival. The musicians, from left, Marti Perry, of Bloomington Ind., Melissa Brewer, of Tallahassee, Fla., and Suzanna Giordano Gignoc, Los Angeles, warm up before the start of the concert. This is the festival's 35th anniversary and was led by Grammy nominated artistic director Craig Hella Johnson.

Their fingers flying, their heads bobbing and their brows furrowed, the three musicians featured at Friday's noontime Victoria Bach Festival concert got quite the workout. But it was nothing compared to the emotional workout they gave the audience.

"That was definitely a workout for sure. Whew! It was exhausting," audience member Debra Chronister said as she wiped away a tear. "I've been coming to the Bach Festival for a long time and I always know it's that time of the year again when I weep at live music."

With a lineup of chamber music from the three great R's: Rachmaninov, Ravel and Rossini, the concert featured pianist Michelle Schumann, cellist Gregory Sauer and violinist Corinne Stillwell.

Prior to each piece, Schumann would explain to the audience where the composer got his inspiration for the music, which was as varied as losing a close friend and mentor to the World Fair when it was held in Paris.

The musicians were well rewarded for their hard workout. After each piece, they received bigger and longer standing ovations than the one before. By the end of the concert, the whole crowd was not only on their feet, but cheering their approval quite vocally as well.

"It was moving beyond belief," audience member JoAnn Henkel said. "I loved their expressions. They were really feeling the music as I was."

Chronister agreed.

"I'm not sure how the musicians got up from their chairs afterward. You could see in their faces how involved they were in the music," she added.

Saturday is the last day of the Victoria Bach Festival, which began Tuesday.

At noon, a film titled "Bach and Friends" will be screened at the Victoria Public Library. World-class musicians from Joshua Bell to Bobby McFerrin share their personal reflections on the power of Bach's music.

Later in the evening, the finale concert will be at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church. Featuring the Victoria Bach Festival Baroque Orchestra and Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Conspirare, the concert will feature Bach's Mass in B Minor.



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