Mountainside Baroque’s final Festive weekend of their 2021-2022 Season, “A Joyous Reunion,” will take place on May 14 and May 15. The Saturday evening concert on the 14th will be at 8 PM at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 16 Washington Street, and the Sunday afternoon performance on the 15th will be presented at 4 PM at the Shrine of St. Peter and Paul, 125 Fayette Street. Both venues are in Cumberland, Maryland. Tickets are available online at mountainsidebaroque.org and at the door.
“Mozart to Beethoven” opens the weekend on Saturday with some of the trendiest music from the latter part of the 18thcentury, performed by world-renowned Baroque violinist (and longtime friend of Mountainside) Cynthia Roberts and fellow Julliard faculty member Yiheng Yang on fortepiano, in an informal “music in the round” concert in the Emmanuel Church Parish Hall.
The Sunday performance, “The Heavens Laugh: Festive Bach,” features the largest ensemble staged thus far by Mountainside Baroque–totaling nearly 50 performers! In a return to the high Baroque, the program of festive and seasonally appropriate sacred and secular music of Johann Sebastian Bach is made especially jubilant by the inclusion of silvery Baroque trumpets, and timpani.
The concert will open with Cantata 31, Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret (The heavens laugh! The earth shouts with joy), which Bach originally composed for Easter in 1715; it was first performed at “Ss. Peter and Paul,” the Weimar town church. (In a nice touch of symmetry, the Mountainside performance will be in Cumberland’s own historic Shrine of Ss. Peter and Paul.)
Following will be one of Bach’s suites for orchestra. In 1723, Bach moved to Leipzig and this superb series of dances was likely performed in the then-popular Zimmerman’s Coffee House on Friday nights. The 2nd movement–known as the “Air on the G string”– became one of his most famous pieces.
Bach’s Ascension oratorio Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (Praise God in all his kingdoms), first performed in 1735, will round off the program. Scored for full orchestra, soloists and chorus in addition to winds, this striking work reflects Bach’s special fondness for rich sonorities, with its colorful use of two flutes, two oboes, three trumpets, and timpani.
In addition to the formidable combo of Roberts (who will also serve as Concertmaster for Sunday’s Bach concert) and Yang, the weekend features a stellar cast of musicians that balances both familiar faces and newcomers to the Mountainside family. Soloists include first-time guests soprano Rebecca Myers, a member of the GRAMMY award winning The Crossing and founding member of Philadelphia-based Variant Six, and Brian Thorsett, hailed as “a strikingly gifted tenor, with a deeply moving, unblemished voice,” who serves as chair of the voice area at Virginia Tech. They are joined by two of our highly prized frequent guests–mezzo-soprano Janna Critz, and bass David Grogan. John Walthausen, founder of Filament Baroque, will join the group on keyboard instruments.
While Covid protocols are still in flux at our venues at this time, socially distanced seating will be employed. Masks may be optional, but we remind everyone to check the Mountainside website for any last minute updates, as things can change quickly.
Our performances this weekend are dedicated Mountainside Baroque’s dear friend and colleague, cellist Alan Whear, who died this past February after a lengthy and tenacious battle with cancer. His last appearance in Cumberland was just before the pandemic, and he was to join us for the concerts this weekend.
Tickets, including special FlexSaver booklets (6 tickets for the price of 5), can be purchased in advance at www.mountainsidebaroque.org, and at the door on the day of the concert. Consult the website for additional performance details and updated program information. Or call 301-338-2940.