BLUE HILL — Blue Hill Bach is back, beginning its 11th season — live and in person — in mid-August, presenting its annual summer festival with a series of small-scale concerts that will bring members of its period-instrument ensemble together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a pause in live performance.
On Wednesday, Aug.18 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill, a program entitled “The Intimate Bach” will feature music for harpsichord, in the inaugural concert of an instrument recently donated to Blue Hill Bach. Festival Music Director John Finney will be the featured soloist in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. Other music on the program will include selections from the “Notebooks for Anna Magdalena Bach,” Bach’s violin sonata in E major performed by Jude Ziliak, and an organ prelude specially composed for the occasion by this year’s Blue Hill Bach Young Artist Fellow, Julian Bennett-Holmes, who will perform on the church’s magnificent tracker organ.
On Thursday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m., Blue Hill Bach will return to Atlantic Boat Company in Brooklin for “A Baroque Pick-Nick.” The boatyard’s sail loft building will be transformed into the Baroque Café, with food and beverages available for purchase. Serenading the audience will be Blue Hill Bach orchestra members, including trumpeter Josh Cohen in Mr. Handel’s Water Piece, bassoonist Andrew Schwartz and violinist YuEun Gemma Kim in concerti by Antonio Vivaldi, festival Artistic Director Stephen Hammer joining Mr. Cohen and Ms. Kim as soloists in festive selections from Georg Philipp Telemann’s Musique de table—and a surprise or two.
On Saturday, Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Blue Hill’s First Congregational Church, the all-Bach festival finale, “Songs of Praise and Jubilation,” will showcase eight of Blue Hill Bach’s singers in the motet, Singet dem Herrn; BWV 225; Jauchzet Gott in alle Landen, BWV 51, featuring soprano Nola Richardson; and Cantata 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben.
Free events for the general public during Blue Hill Bach’s festival week will include a master class in Baroque performance practice for string players on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Blue Hill Congregational Church, and the popular “Bach’s Lunch”, a lecture-demonstration about the music in this year’s festival presented by conductor John Finney and members of the ensemble. Blue Hill Bach joins forces with The Blue Hill Co-op to present this free event on Thursday, Aug. 19 at 12 noon. The public is encouraged to support the Co-op Café by purchasing lunch to enjoy along with the music.
Blue Hill Bach was founded in 2011 with the mission of presenting historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that explore vocal and instrumental music of the Baroque and other repertoire that demonstrates the place of Baroque music within the span of music history. Under the direction of Stephen Hammer, Artistic Director, Blue Hill Bach draws upon musicians from Maine, greater New England, and across the U.S. who are specialists in Baroque performance practice. Players in the ensemble perform on original period instruments or replicas, creating a sound that is faithful to the composers’ intent. The Blue Hill Bach chorus includes professional singers, members of the local community, and students from area high schools and colleges.
In 2013, Blue Hill Bach created the Young Artist Fellowship, which provides an opportunity for a young artist who shows extraordinary promise as a Baroque musician to work closely with professional musicians and administrators in an intensive and collegial performance atmosphere. This year’s Fellow, Julian Bennet-Holmes, is a composer and performer who is a doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music.
In consideration of the safety and health of performers and audience members, Blue Hill Bach will observe CDC guidelines, and asks that only those fully vaccinated attend festival events. All performers will be vaccinated, and singers and wind players spaced at a safe distance. Programs will be recorded for release on Blue Hill Bach’s website and YouTube channel.
Concert tickets will be available in advance only on the Blue Hill Bach website, bluehillbach.org. General admission $30/students $10/under 18 free of charge. For more information, go to bluehillbach.org or phone 207-613-5454.