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Bach at New Year's-- A Very Baroque Celebration



The Berkshire Bach Society (BBS) returns with Bach at New Year’s—A Very Baroque Celebration and nine-time Grammy Award winner Eugene Drucker leading the Berkshire Bach Ensemble in three holiday concerts of Baroque masterworks: Saturday, December 30 at 7pm at the Academy of Music (Northampton, MA), co-presented with New England Public Media; Sunday, December 31 at 6pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (Great Barrington); and Monday, January 1 at 3pm at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (Troy, NY), co-presented with WMHT.  Tickets for the performances are available through the box office at each venue. 

“Bach at New Year’s has become a holiday tradition since beginning in 1993 as a marathon performance of all six ‘Brandenburg’ Concerti by J.S. Bach,” said Terrill McDade, Executive Director of The Berkshire Bach Society. “This year we depart from that original plan and present a variety of composers and works that will surprise and (we hope) delight our audience as we explore the astonishing variety and contrasts of Baroque music.  This year’s concerts are dedicated to longtime Berkshire Bach Board member Henry Meininger, who passed away in July of this year, and whose creativity and sparkling imagination were a continual inspiration to us at Berkshire Bach.”

Last year Music Director Eugene Drucker gave each of his performers a star turn in single, double, and even triple concertos.  This year he presents a mixed program of works that show off the group’s ensemble playing.  The works include music by Bach, Corelli, Handel, Telemann, and Biber, five important figures in the history of Baroque music and authors of an astonishing variety of music among them.

Corelli, known for the exceptional beauty of his violin tone, was highly influential not just for Bach but also for Handel and Telemann.  Berkshire Bach performs his beloved ‘Christmas Concerto’ to open the concert, allowing the pastoral tones to set the stage for the contrasts to follow.  And what contrasts they are:  Bach’s powerful Concerto for Harpsichord in D minorBWV 1052, with soloist Kenneth Weiss, and imposing Concerto for Violin in A Major, BWV 1041, with soloist Eugene Drucker, show Bach’s mastery of the solo concerto form.  An unusual showpiece for winds by Telemann and the Concerto Grosso in G Major, Op. 3 No. 3, HWV 314, by Handel provide contrast in sonorities and texture.  Telemann's witty Gulliver Suite for Two Violins (but played by our fine violists) is the intermission feature.

The Battalia à 10 by Biber is something else again.  Biber was the most important Germanic composer of violin music in the 17th century, establishing a virtuoso school of playing that garnered excitement and praise from his contemporaries and anticipated the technical devices used later by Bach in his solo violin works.  The Battalia à 10 is the earliest work on the program and a sharp contrast to the gentle purity of the Corelli but just as representative of the Baroque era.  Ostensibly a commentary on the Thirty Year’s War that ravaged Europe from 1618 to 1648, the piece is a programmatic depiction of fictional troops and their war experiences with surprising details, including unconventional ways of playing the instruments and sections of polytonality that are ahead of their time. 

Join us in Northampton, Great Barrington, or Troy (NY) to celebrate New Year’s with Berkshire Bach and hear the power, the beauty, and the delightful wit of Bach at New Year’s—A Very Baroque Celebration.

 Tickets for children under 18 and students with valid ID are always free. Visit www.berkshirebach.org for more information and follow us on Facebook.  Berkshire Bach is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization that brings world-class performances of Baroque Music to the Berkshires and beyond.

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