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Satisfy your craving for classical music at Victoria Bach Fest

By Jennifer Preyss -
June 4, 2014 at 1:04 a.m.

Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson will lead the Victoria Bach Festival Baroque Orchestra and Conspirare in Johann Sebastian Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" on June 13.

When acclaimed composer Craig Hella Johnson was introduced to Johann Sebastian Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" 30 years ago, his reaction was the same as it is today - inspired.

"This is one of the most important works Bach ever composed. . It's one of his greatest achievements," said Johnson, artistic director of the Victoria Bach Festival.

Johnson returns to Victoria for the 2014 Bach Fest concert series to perform the monumental musical retelling of the death of Jesus with two orchestras, two choirs, period instruments and vocal solos.

"This is a performance not to be missed," Johnson said. "I can't emphasize enough that in terms of hosting of a special event and opportunity for a person's local community, this is it. Bach Fest is something Victoria and the surrounding region can feel very proud of."

Beginning Tuesday, Bach Fest will host a series of classical concerts with an array of musical instruments - in various venues around town - performed by noted musicians from across the nation.

And he's looking forward to his part, conducting the works of one his musical idols, Bach, and re-creating the masterpiece of "St. Matthew Passion" at the Victoria Fine Arts Center on June 13.

"For me, this has been a work I've known for 30 years, and I continue to be inspired by it," he said. "It's almost like a palace you live in, and each time you walk through it, you get to know a new room."

Among the other artists performing during the eight shows of Bach Fest are pianist Melissa Marse, percussionist Todd Meehan and two-time Grammy winner Richard Stoltzman, performing clarinet.

Johnson encourages the community to embrace Bach Fest while it's in town because it's an experience unlike any other in the area.

He also said there are no prerequisites for enjoying classical music, just a willingness to listen.

"It truly is a special opportunity for everyone in Victoria, and I want them to know this music is their music. It belongs to them," he said. "You don't have to know this music to experience it."

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