Mid-June usually means music-making time for the Baroque Music Festival of Corona del Mar, which was founded in 1981 by Dr. Burton Karson, Professor of Music at CSU Fullerton. Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock took over as artistic director in 2011 after Dr. Karson retired.
Normally a series of baroque concerts would be held in various locations in Corona del Mar, including the Sherman Library & Gardens.
However, like most music organizations, the Baroque Music Festival has fallen victim to the pandemic. Last year’s festival and this year’s event had to be cancelled, although the Festival will return with a live event next June.
However, there will still be music this year, but it has gone virtual—and with good reason.
The Baroque Music Festival has collaborated with Ars Lyrica, Houston (co-producer) and San Francisco Early Music Society (co-presenter) to present a new immersive virtual concert film that will be streaming within the organization’s typical yearly festival week.
Entitled “A Bach Keyboard Extravaganza,” the film explores and celebrates the music of J.S. Bach for harpsichord and organ, alongside that of Bach’s key contemporaries.
Acclaimed American harpsichordist and organist Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston’s Artistic Directo makes his Baroque Music Festival debut with this film.
“I’m delighted to be sharing some of my favorite harpsichord and organ pieces with a virtual audience, thanks to an invitation from the Baroque Music Festival of Corona del Mar,” said Dirst in a statement.
According to information from the Baroque Music Festival, the performances and commentary were captured in May 2021 at the Rienzi wing (Decorative Arts) of the Houston Museum of Fine Art, and at St. Philip Presbyterian Church, Houston where Dirst is Music Director.
After a brief introduction to Matthew by the Baroque Music Festival’s artistic director Elizabeth Blumenstock, the performances will be interspersed with lively commentary on the composers, pieces, locations and instruments—including the wonderful 2020 “Gräbner” harpsichord by John Phillips complete with rich decoration by Janine Johnson. This collaborative creative project was made possible by a cultural arts grant from the City of Newport Beach.
The public can watch this film on YouTube on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. on the Festival’s YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/YouTubeBMFCdM.
A Zoom Q&A social hour will follow the presentation at 8 p.m.
Streaming is free to view as is participation in the Zoom after-party with the musicians.
Donations are welcomed at https://bmf-cdm.org.
The YouTube watch page and after-party Zoom link will be circulated in the Festival’s e-newsletter a few days ahead of the premiere streaming. Concert viewers may join the e-mailing list to receive the links at http://bit.ly/BMFmailinglist.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750): Prelude and Fugue in B-flat Major BWV 866 Nicolas de Grigny (1672-1703): Excerpts from the Livre d’Orgue
Dialogue à 2 Tailles de Cromorne et 2 dessus de Cornet; Dialogue de Flûtes; Dialogue sur les Grands jeux
Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major BWV 852
Bach: Two Cantata Transcriptions, transcribed by M. Dirst
Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe BWV 156/1; Valet will ich dir geben BWV 95/3 Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780): Trio in E-flat Major Adagio; Un poco Allegro Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A Minor BWV 865
Nikolaus Bruhns (1665-1697): Praeludium in G Major
Performer Biography: Mathew Dirst
Matthew Dirst is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including the American Guild of Organists National Young Artist Competition and the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition.
Widely admired for his stylish playing and conducting, he was recently described in the Washington Post as an “efficient, extremely precise conductor who has an ear for detail and up-to-date ideas about performing Bach.”
Early Music America hailed his solo recording of harpsichord works by François and Armand-Louis Couperin, as a “stylish, tasteful, and technically commanding performance…expressive and brilliant playing.”
As Artistic Director of Ars Lyrica Houston, Dirst leads a period- instrument ensemble with several acclaimed recordings, one of which—J. A. Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra—was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Opera. His degrees include a PhD in musicology from Stanford University and the prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord from the Conservatoire National de Reuil-Malmaison, France, where he spent two years as a Fulbright scholar.
To watch a video preview of the event, visit https://youtu.be/0x7N6ILjuoA.