Blue Hill Bach

Organization Member

Contact Information

(207) 590-2677, (207) 613-5454

[email protected]
https://bluehillbach.org

Blue Hill, Maine

Type of Organization

Festivals, Performing Ensemble, Presenter

About

Blue Hill Bach was founded in 2011 to bring Baroque music for voice and period instruments to coastal Downeast Maine. Drawing upon the wealth of talent in the region—including college and high school students—and visiting artists who specialize in early music, Blue Hill Bach presents historically informed performances under the direction of Artistic Director Stephen Hammer. The young organization has attracted a strong audience for its concerts, including the 2011 debut concert and a performance during the summer of 2012 with Jonathan Dimmock, conductor, organist, and continuo player; an annual performance of Handel's Messiah, in December 2022 and 2023 under the direction of George Emlen; an annual concert celebrating Bach's birthday in March; and week-long summer festivals each year since 2013, under the musical guidance of conductor and keyboard player John Finney.

In addition to the popular "Bach's Lunch," a lecture-demonstration by John Finney and members of the ensemble, education programs have included master classes for young string players; a presentation by authors Robert and Traute Marshall on their book, Exploring the World of J.S. Bach; a lecture on baroque opera by Grant Herreid; lectures on the art and architecture of Vivaldi’s Venice and art of the pandemic by art historian Sheila ffolliott; a lecture on the women of Bach’s musical world by musicologist Natasha Roule; a lecture on the art and music of Versailles by art historian Véronique Plesch; and recitals by violinist Jude Ziliak and cellist Sarah Freiberg. Baroque dance has been the centerpiece of several Baroque Café concerts, with dance, choreography, and audience instruction by early dance specialists Carlos Fittante and Caroline Copland. One of the most popular events each year, the Baroque Café is a concert of secular music and dance presented in such audience-friendly venues as the glass house at Mainscape Garden Center, a boat shed at Atlantic Boat Company, and the rustic barn at David's Folly Farm. Audience members enjoy a picnic dinner as they listen.

Blue Hill Bach has collaborated with many regional institutions, and presents concerts and events at venues throughout the Blue Hill peninsula: Blue Hill’s First Congregational Church, St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, the Blue Hill Public Library and town hall theater, the Brooksville Free Public Library, Bagaduce Music, Peninsula Metamorphic Arts and Learning, and Barncastle Inn. Summer concerts have included performances in Cape Elizabeth, at St. John's Catholic Church in Bangor (sponsored by the St. John's Organ Society), and at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre.

During the height of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, Blue Hill Bach went online for a virtual festival in the summer of 2020. Eleven days of events were led off by newly produced videos of 2019’s The Four Seasons with Noel Paul Stookey as narrator, followed by programs that featured Blue Hill Bach singers, instrumentalists, and friends. 2020 festival videos are available at bluehillbach.org. Also available for viewing and listening are a musical Advent calendar featuring the Zenith Ensemble, and many other recordings, including the option to purchase CDs of the 2011 debut concert and selections from the 2016 festival.

Blue Hill Bach received support for the 2017 outreach program "An Introduction to the Pipe Organ" from Early Music America, for the 2017 – 2021 Baroque Café from the Maine Arts Commission, which is partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, from the Onion Foundation for the 2023 festival, and from the Maurice Amado Foundation. 

Blue Hill Bach has received support from the Maine Community Foundation for capacity-building and for the Marville Young Artist Fellowship, which is awarded to a student or emerging musician who shows exceptional promise in Baroque performance. Young Artist Fellows have included cellist Stanley Moore, violinist Jude Ziliak, oboist/countertenor David Dickey, organist/cellist Abraham Ross, alto Catharine Cloutier, tenor Zachary Fisher, violinist YuEun Kim, countertenor Bradley Sharpe, baritone/video coordinator Christopher Andaloro, organist Julian Bennett Holmes, oboist Gaia Satermoe-Howard, harpsichordist Kevin Devine, dancer/choreographer Julian Donahue, and mezzo-soprano Ashley Mulcahy. A complete roster of performers can be found at bluehillbach.org.

Blue Hill Bach works to involve the community in its activities in a variety of ways, and offers musical experiences that are, in the words of an Advisory Board member, "relaxed, accessible, and friendly—with formidable musicians."

 

Events

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