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Supporter: Bach Festival is better than Christmas

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
June 6, 2012 at 1:06 a.m.

Bruce Williams, left, plays viola, while Douglas Harvey plays the cello in the fifth movement of "String Quartet No. 5" by Philip Glass at First United Methodist Church. "Performing the piece isn't physically hard," said Williams, "but emotionally, it's exhausting."

One would need a time machine to hear 300 years of music in one hour.

Yet, the Victoria Bach Festival discovered a way to make it possible.

The "Impressions" concert featured the works of composers Johann Bach, Wolfgang Mozart and Philip Glass.

Christy Salinas looks forward to the five-day festival all year.

"Bach Festival is better than Christmas," she said.

The 30-year-old Victoria native sings alto with the Conspirare Symphonic Choir, Victoria Bach Festival's chorus.

On Wednesday afternoon, the performer became the spectator. She went through a whirlwind of emotions sitting in her first-row seat.

Salinas closed her eyes, took notes and smiled from ear-to-ear during the 60-minute concert.

"I just know how much energy they put into this show," she said. "They appreciate the feedback."

The concept of the festival began in 1976 under the direction of Dr. David Urness. Musicians from across the nation have hit the stage to perform orchestral, choral and chamber work.

Close to 150 people filled the pews of First United Methodist Church to listen to music that has withstood the test of time.

Bach board member John Griffin greeted the attentive crowd, "I'd like to give a warm, more so hot South Texas welcome to everyone," he said. Griffin later thanked everyone for attending.

Christopher Haritatos, violoncellist and Keith Womer, a harpsichord player, opened the concert with "Gamba Sonata No. 1 in G major."

Bach wrote the piece in four movements, going in slow-fast-slow-fast order. The crowd waited with bated breath as the musicians turned the pages.

A deep exhale ensued when Womer and Haritatos finished.

Before moving forward in the concert, one musician spent time remembering the past.

Flutist Adah Toland Jones recalled longtime supporter Dottie Welton, who died in December 2008. Welton dedicated many years to work with the festival.

Jones honored Welton during the selection, "Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major" by Mozart. The fluttering sound was comparable to birds flying on an early spring day.

Moods in the sanctuary changed from vibrant to luminous during "String Quartet No. 5," like leaves falling to the ground in winter.

The 21-year old piece was written by Glass in 1991 ended on a more upbeat note. Roaring applause ensued.

"Bravo, Bravo," Salinas said. She was the first one to stand at the conclusion of the concert.

Organizers said they were pleased with the turnout and the crowd's reaction.

"I think the audience was very receptive," said Nina Di Leo, Bach Fest executive director.

Salinas said the Bach Festival gives Victorians the opportunity to be exposed to world-class musicians.

"It's a chance for this small town to see a New York-style performance," she said.



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