The Victoria Bach Festival broadens our cultural landscape, thereby enriching our lives and enlightening our children. This year, Arts and Culture Texas named the festival one of the 10 best cultural events in Texas during the week beginning June 3. The other nine events took place in the five largest cities in the state, ranging in population from almost 900,000 to more than 2 million. Victoria, with a population that sits just below 70,000, ranked No. 4 on the list. The weeklong musical program helps bring visitors and new residents to our area. In fact, this year, the festival attracted guests from Georgia, Kansas, Arkansas and about 25 Texas cities, big and small.
For 44 years, the festival also has attracted thousands of musical virtuosos across the nation to Victoria. The orchestral and choral artists have performed in settings ranging from the casual coffeehouse or public library to the intimate chapel or immense church.
The festival has spread the performances, including solos, duets, trios, quartets, and partial and full orchestras, throughout the week. This year, those performances took place in Goliad, Edna and Victoria. Some are free, some suggest a donation and others require a ticket, but they all are open to the public.
This year, the festival ended with a finale that proved the show goes on even when unforeseen circumstances strike. A freakish power outage put about 55,000 households and the final performance, “Towering Beethoven,” in the dark Saturday. Gina Eliot, the office administrator for Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, received a call at home and jumped into action to get the air conditioning running and the doors open at her church. The production crews for the festival and the Victoria Fine Arts Center, where the performance was supposed to take place, moved the concert to the church in vans borrowed from VISD in under one hour. And most of the audience followed. Nina Di Leo, executive director for the Victoria Bach Festival, said the way the evening unfolded showed the community’s dedication to the festival. She called the performance “one heck of a beautiful concert” and said they “were tested but showed the power of everyone coming together.”
“It’s a year for the record books,” Di Leo said. “That ending is one that will not be easily forgotten.”
Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, artistic director for the Victoria Bach Festival, has earned accolades from both the Washington Post and the New York Times. A conductor and pianist, he is the artistic director of Musica Viva NY and director of music for the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan. He and the other 60-plus musicians who travel here once a year to perform are truly a gift to the community, and we encourage Crossroads residents to continue supporting them. Until next year’s Bach festival, we also encourage members of the Crossroads community to take advantage of the 46th season of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, which begins in September and runs through April 2020. Programs range from “East Meets West” and “An Alpine Symphony” to the Celtic Tenors and “Super Diamond: The Neil Diamond Tribute.”