Word is out. Young professional musicians looking for an edge in their game or an extra nudge for their career have jumped at the chance to audition for the Berwick Academy, the intensive education-cum-performance institute that is part of the Oregon Bach Festival.
Was it coincidence that in 1979, when William Christie chose a name for his newly formed Paris-based Baroque ensemble, he found one that made reference to flowers, Les Arts Florissants? Deliberately or not, the moniker foretold the marvelous estate that has become the conductor’s primary home and haven, where he has hosted thousands of visitors for days of Baroque music and the pleasures of the garden.
Many people think a peace treaty was signed after the vibrato wars of the 1970s, when the plush string textures of the modern symphony orchestra were challenged by the leaner sound of historical instruments. Eliminating vibrato, along with playing on gut strings, was the most noticeable mark of historically informed performance style. Before it was even called HIP, employing “authentic instruments” set early-music players apart from symphony orchestras, and singing with a pristine, boy-like sound marked a new vocal coloring.