New Young Artists will kick off Bach Festival

Camille Doty

June 3, 2012 at 1:03 a.m.
Updated June 4, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.

Michelle Schumann and Graeme Francis perform together during last year's Bach Festival

Michelle Schumann and Graeme Francis perform together during last year's Bach Festival

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California native Esteli Gomez will sing her way into the hearts of South Texans at the 37th season of the Victoria Bach Festival.

The classically trained soprano will kick off the weeklong event along with bassoonist Laura Miller and Faith DeBow on Tuesday.

Gomez, a 26-year-old Yale University graduate, said she feels welcome in the Crossroads.

"I look forward to this (festival). I've already gotten such a warm response from others," she said, noting she has received positive feedback through phone calls and emails.

This year, Gomez and other featured musicians will perform in children's concerts, orchestral and choral performances, and small ensembles.

"It's an eclectic blend of some of the world's best music," said Nina Di Leo, Bach Festival executive director.

This year's theme will feature music with an American energy and influence.

Victoria native Jerry F. Junkin will lead the Victoria Bach Festival Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band in the Saturday evening concert.

Some selections include Henry Brant's "Whoopee in D Major for a Very Fine Orchestra," Wolfgang Mozart's the romantic serenade no. 10, "Grant Partita," and George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

On Friday, Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson will lead the Victoria Bach Festival String Orchestra and Conspirare in a concert of contrasting eras and emotions featuring George Frideric Handel's "Dixit Dominu" and Arvo Pärt's "Berliner Messe."

"We have three events this year in the wonderful Victoria Fine Arts Center featuring our orchestra and large ensembles," said Johnson in a news release.

The festival, which was founded in 1976 by University of Houston-Victoria professor David Urness, has expanded over the years and will be at different venues including Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts, First United Methodist Church, the Golden Gecko, and the Victoria Fine Arts Center.

Gomez and Miller are the 2012 New Young Artists. Both musicians have received international acclaim, said DeBow, who also serves as the new young artist coordinator.

Gomez won the 2011 Poznan Early Music Competition in Poland.

Miller, a University of Texas-Austin honors graduate, has served as the principal bassoonist with the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific in British Columbia, Canada.

"They are outstanding young musicians," said DeBow.

Gomez said her talents have caused her to adapt to a new lifestyle.

"I'm very much a nomadic musician," she said.

Although Gomez and Miller will meet for the first time on Monday, Gomez said the two have worked together to construct the perfect, complementary selections. They will perform one-third of the recital together.

Gomez said the improvised pieces will have a synergistic effect.

"It's going to be like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. It will be wonderful," she said.



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