08 Dec LD to perform Bach with GRAMMY-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan
(Cleveland) – Acclaimed chamber ensemble Les Délices announces a special appearance with GRAMMY-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan on January 27, 2024 at 7:00 pm as part of Baldwin Wallace University’s tripartite 2024 Annual Bach Festival.
The Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival – the oldest collegiate Bach festival in the nation – was founded in 1932. More recently, the festival is evolving to include year-round events that explore Bach’s influence on a broad spectrum of music. Their 2024 Festival will include three parts or “inventions,” including events in October, and performances and lectures January 24-28 and April 12-14, 2024.
As part of January 24-28th’s Festival Weekend, Les Délices joins Nicholas Phan for a special performance of favorite Bach arias and chamber music by Bach and his contemporaries. This concert includes works recently recorded for the world-class tenor’s Bach52 Project, a web series that probes the question “Is Bach’s music for everyone?” LD’s Artistic Director Debra Nagy was featured on the series as a guest and musician on an episode co-produced by SalonEra, Les Delices’ own early music-focused web series and podcast. Added Nagy, “I was first exposed to Nick’s artistry when he sang the Evangelist for Apollo’s Fire’s most recent recording of Bach’s St. John Passion. Since then, I’ve not only admired his singing but I’ve been intrigued and inspired by Nick’s insightful writings about performing Bach’s music. After initial recording sessions with Nick for his Bach52 Project in September 2022, I was very eager to find more opportunities to work together. Nick is anything but a diva; he’s a generous and creative collaborator. We’ve been planning a major project together for February 2025, but in the meantime, Les Délices is very much looking forward to welcoming Nick to Cleveland this January and contributing six new arias to the Bach52 Project.”
In addition to highlighting Phan’s “sweet, clear voice” (the New York Times), this concert calls attention to the artistry and technical prowess of oboists Debra Nagy and Meg Owens, who will each perform on multiple instruments, including the oboe de caccia (or so-called“hunting oboe), a tenor oboe that serves as the predecessor to the English horn, and the otherworldly oboe d’amore, an alto instrument that sounds a major third lower than the oboe. “One of the most satisfying parts of my job as a Baroque oboist is that I’m frequently playing music from the apex of the instrument’s golden age: Bach wrote more solos for oboes in his vocal works than for any other instrument. That said, it’s not common for audiences to get to hear and see the more unusual instruments like oboe d’amore and oboe da caccia – this performance will be a fantastic opportunity for that,” commented Nagy.
A linchpin of Les Délices for the past several seasons, virtuoso harpsichordist Mark Edwards emerges from the continuo section to perform two variations from Bach’s enigmatic keyboard masterpiece The Goldberg Variations. Edwards will perform the complete Variations as part of Les Delices’ concert season on February 11th and 18th in Hudson and Cleveland Heights.
GRAMMY-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan and Les Délices musicians perform favorite music by Bach
WHEN: January 27th at 7:00 pm
WHERE: Gamble Auditorium, Kulas Musical Arts Building, Baldwin Wallace University Campus (link)
ABOUT NICHOLAS PHAN
American tenor Nicholas Phan is an artist with an incredibly diverse repertoire that spans nearly 500 years of music. In 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music, where he serves as artistic director. A celebrated recording artist, Phan’s most recent album, Stranger: Works for Tenor by Nico Muhly, was nominated for the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His previous albums, Clairières and Gods and Monsters, were nominated for the same award in 2020 and 2017. Sought after as a curator and programmer, in addition to his work as artistic director of CAIC, Phan is the host and creator of BACH 52, a web series examining the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He has created programs for broadcast on WFMT and WQXR and has also served as guest curator for projects with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Merola Opera program, Laguna Beach Music Festival, Apollo’s Fire, and San Francisco Performances, where he served as the vocal artist-in-residence from 2014-2018. Praised by the Chicago Classical Review as “the kind of thoughtful, intelligent programming that should be a model,” Phan’s programs often examine themes of identity, highlight unfairly underrepresented voices from history, and strive to underline the relevance of music from all periods to the currents of the present day.
BACH 52 is a web series that explores the question: “Is the music of Bach for everyone?” Comprised of 52 episodes, each episode of BACH 52 features a film and recording of one tenor aria (or duet) from Johann Sebastian Bach’s church cantatas paired with interviews with scholars, musicians, and audience-members that probes this question. The choice of 52 arias will allow for a year-long exploration of Bach’s music and examination of the relevance of his music to today’s increasingly secular and diverse society.
Tenor Nicholas Phan says, “The music of Bach has formed an important cornerstone of my repertoire. Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities to perform this repertoire all over the world… these experiences have led to a desire to have an immersive recording experience with Bach’s music. This desire combined with the reckonings posed by the present moment are the inspirations behind the BACH 52 project.
In the current cultural climate in which so much about classical music is being questioned for its validity, I find that I am often asking myself: is classical music really for everybody? In a basic sense, I have always believed this to be true. On the other hand, as the classical music community examines the racism, misogyny, and homophobia baked into much of this music and its institutions, it’s hard not to recognize the ways that the traditions can exclude. Yet, the truth is, as a gay man of color who has spent much of his life on the outside looking in, classical music is the thing that kept me alive through my fraught adolescence and through which I have found community. As usual, no thing is just one thing, and art can hold many truths at once.”
ABOUT THE BALDWIN WALLACE BACH FESTIVAL
The Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival – the oldest collegiate Bach festival in the nation – was founded in 1932 by Professor Albert Riemenschneider (longtime director of the BW Conservatory) and his wife, Selma. The Baldwin Wallace Festival Choir and Orchestra presented the first Bach Festival in June 1933, and we’ve been performing annual Bach festivals ever since. In the current era, the festival is evolving to include year-round events, like Bach Haus, that explore Bach’s influence on a broad spectrum of music.
Baldwin Wallace performing groups are joined by faculty members and professional musicians in the three-day, multi-event program. Soloists are internationally known artists; the lecturers, distinguished Bach and Baroque scholars. BW students consider the unusual opportunity of participating, as colleagues, with world-class professionals a high point in their performing experience.
Beginning with the 43rd festival in 1975, the festival performing groups have been reduced to sizes now known to be more in line with those employed in Bach’s time. Likewise, from 1975 on, all vocal works have been sung in the language of their origins. These changes have made possible the cultivation of a truly Baroque sound with inherent clarity, drive and intensity.
With a repertoire list that includes more than 300 compositions by J.S. Bach, as well as selected works from 52 other composers, the Festival rotates Bach’s four major choral works on a four-year cycle. In this way, BW students are exposed to all four of the major Bach choral works during their college years; the B-minor Mass, the St. Matthew and St. John Passions, and the Christmas Oratorio.