Saying hello to new traditions and goodbye to old friends


May 27, 2009 at 12:27 a.m.
Updated May 28, 2009 at 12:28 a.m.

He's baaaaach!

Yes, with the month of June fast approaching, it can only mean one thing. The Victoria Bach Festival is right around the corner, from June 9-13.

It's a year of transitions for the annual event, which first started in 1976. Longtime festival conductor and artistic director Craig Hella Johnson has been joined on the newly formed festival creative team by colleagues Michelle Schumann and Joey Martin, according to a festival news release.

In addition to new leadership, it's also a year of loss for the festival. One of the biggest festival leaders, Dottie Welton, who was nicknamed Lady Bach, passed away in December.

For 30 years, Welton helped lead and support the festival and to honor her memory, one of the biggest concerts of the week is the performers' tribute to Welton.

"It's going to be a really neat concert dedicated to Dottie. The musicians actually programmed it themselves to pay respect to her," festival managing director Nina Di Leo said.

Other major evening concerts of the week include the Musical Feast, which includes a little known musical comedy by Bach called "The Coffee Contata" and the Joyous Romantics concert, which features works by composers Mendelssohn, Fauré and Dohnányi.

The finale concert on the evening of June 13 will feature the entire Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra and performances of Beethoven's Egmont Overture, Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin in E Minor and Mozart's Symphony No. 41.

Throughout the week, free noon-time concerts will be held throughout the city as well.

Starting off the concerts will be returning percussionist Thomas Burritt back with another performance of complex rhythm. Festival staple, the Harpsichord Happening concert featuring musician David Mead, is back for the tenth year in a row. Another staple of the festival, the New Young Artists concert, will feature soprano Catherine Clarke and tenor Seth Lafler, who will be accompanied by Joey Martin on piano.

This year, one of the noon concerts is taking a different turn, featuring a family drum circle lead by rhythm therapists Judy and David Hillendahl. Called "Drums Through the Ages," the program will feature authentic percussion instruments from countries around the world.

As a special treat, this year the Bach Festival is also hosting a free screening of the film "The Silence Before Bach." A Spanish and German film with English subtitles, the film is a visual tribute to Bach's music and spans the past three centuries, according to the news release.

Of course, the kids aren't left out of the fun. A children's camp called Bach to Rock will be held throughout the week for kids aged 3-8 and during some of the evening concerts, the Children's Discovery Museum will hold a dinner and activities for children while their parents attend the concerts at the nearby Welder Center.

For more information on the festival or to purchase tickets, call 361-570-5788 or go to



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