Celebrated classical pianist Andre Watts once said “if I don’t practice for one day I can tell, if I don’t practice for two days the critics can tell, if I don’t practice for three days the public can tell.”
“That’s honest and quite true” said violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, artistic director and violinist supreme for the 42nd annual Baroque Music Festival in Corona del Mar June 19-26.
Fortunately, Blumenstock noted that “playing baroque music does not call upon the super high demand like when you are playing romantic repertoire—those technical demands are extreme. With baroque music there is still a falling off if you don’t practice.”
When the pandemic hit, Blumenstock – who normally plays with orchestras and festivals around the world – thought it was a nice change to be off and spending time working in her yard, but when she picked up the violin again, “I noticed it had slipped off so then I got serious about it.”
“My normal life pre-pandemic involved being on the road teaching and playing concerts for 10 months out of 12—basically living out of a suitcase,” she said. “That reversed during the pandemic. I was home for 10 months and on the road for two months. My ability to organize my life fell off sharply. I’m delighted to be back at work and performing again.”
Blumenstock performs regularly around the world with the exquisite 17th-century Guarneri violin on generous loan to her from the Philharmonia Baroque Period Instrument Trust. In addition to her artistic directorship of the Baroque Music Festival (since 2011), she serves as concertmaster across the nation, and in Europe, of the finest Baroque ensembles.
“The Guarneri violin is very much a 17th century style, with a highly arched belly, a carved back, not a flat smooth shaping instrument,” she said. “It’s very beautiful and possess a generally bright, clear, sweet sound, with a fair resonance, not as much as some, so it’s a little dependent on the environment. It’s designed to be played in churches.”
Good thing, since many of the Baroque Music Festival concerts take place in local churches.
Blumenstock’s selection of Baroque masterpieces for the 2022 Baroque Music Festival includes a grand Handel opera gala; solo, double and triple concertos by Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and others; orchestral showstoppers, and rousing dance suites.
“Our patrons are eager to get back to live Baroque concerts and we can’t wait to be making music again,” stated Blumenstock. “This is a community festival, and it’s been successful for more than 40 years, which is an affirmation that we are doing something right. We have seen a steady growth in audiences over the years, but we do not want to outgrow our venues. We’re not trying to be bigger, we’re just trying to be better, and more engaging and accessible to our audiences.”
42nd Annual Baroque Music Festival Schedule
Sunday, June 19, 4 p.m.
St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach
“Many Happy Returns”
Welcome back! Elizabeth Blumenstock leads the Festival Orchestra in Bach’s Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C Major (Ian Pritchard, Matthew Dirst), and his Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (Blumenstock, Jolianne Einem), plus Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in D Minor (Stephen Hammer, Lot Demeyer). Telemann’s lively orchestral suite Les Nations and Polonais concerto for strings complete the program.
Monday, June 20, 8 p.m.
CU Center, Concordia University, Irvine
“Follies & Fantasies”
Acclaimed Houston-based conductor, organist and harpsichordist Matthew Dirst gives a solo recital on both instruments. The program includes a J.S. Bach Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, and C.P.E. Bach’s La Folía (folly or madness) variations. Dirst’s playing has been described as “expressive and brilliant” by Early Music America. This sees his live recital debut for the Festival following the successful concert film “A Bach Keyboard Extravaganza” for us in 2021. Not to be missed!
Wednesday, June 22, 8 p.m.
Sherman Library & Gardens, Corona del Mar
“Concertos in the Gardens”
A special program of solo concertos by Benda, Platti, Umstatt, Vivaldi and Bach; plus, Telemann’s Triple Concerto in E Major for flute, oboe d’amore and viola d’amore. Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin), David Shostac (flute), Lara Wickes (oboe), Michael Kaufman (cello) and Gabriel Arregui (harpsichord), and strings.
Friday, June 24, 8 p.m.
St. Michael & All Angels Church, Corona del Mar
“The Joy of the Dance”
Elizabeth Blumenstock and colleagues play lively dances from across Baroque-era Europe, including suites by 17th- century masters Schmelzer and Marini, plus traditional medleys from the British Isles.
Sunday, June 26, 4 p.m.
St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach
“Festival Finale: A Handel Gala”
Virtuoso arias and duets, overtures and dances from Handel’s finest operas: Ariodante, Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda. Featuring Dutch coloratura soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and rising star Canadian countertenor Nicholas Burns, with the 2022 Festival Orchestra.
In addition to the ticketed concerts, audiences are invited to enjoy Baroque music performed al fresco by South Coast Brass, beginning 45 minutes before each concert. Following all performances, audience members and musicians enjoy mingling for conversation and refreshment at a complimentary wine and waters reception.
Information and Tickets
- Subscriptions: $285 for all five concerts. Price includes priority seating at each concert and a private post-concert dinner following the Festival Finale on Sunday, June 26th.
- Tickets: Ranging from $35 to $50 for individual concerts for open seating.
- Students Go for Baroque rush tickets (age 12 and above): $5 on the day of performance only, cash only, with Student ID. Please email [email protected] for further information, and to inquire about group bookings.
- How to purchase: Festival subscriptions, single tickets, full venue information, and current COVID safety protocol, are at www.bmf-cdm.org or available by calling (949) 760‐7887.