Performance at Methodist church
By Angie Landsverk
The 2017 Bach Festival will begin Monday, Sept. 25 when Winchester Academy presents “Bach & Vivaldi: Imitation.”
Trevor Stephenson and the Madison Bach Musicians will present the 6:30 p.m. program at First United Methodist Church.
The program is a gift to the community from Georgia Calvo, a retired Winchester Academy trustee, and is also supported by the Selma and Gerald Knoepfel Memorial Fund.
“It’s sort of my swan song, because I support the Madison Bach Musicians and I support Winchester Academy,” she said.
Calvo was part of Winchester Academy from its start, including the original exploratory committee to start the program.
“I retired from the board after 25 years and have a great attachment to both organizations,” she said.
Calvo explained why she loves the music of composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
She was 9 years old when she attended a performance at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater with her mother.
Leopold Stokowski was the conductor, and one of the pieces in the program was Bach’s Little Fugue in G minor.
“I remember, as a 9-year-old, being blown away by this. It was so visual,” Calvo said. “I had never been to a musical performance with strings before.”
Calvo began taking piano lessons when she was 4, and at her next lesson, her mother shared with the instructor how exciting that experience had been for her daughter.
Her instructor then asked her if she wanted to learn to play the piece.
That was the beginning of Calvo’s love of Bach.
She said the instrumentalists Stephenson is bringing to Waupaca are world-class performers on period instruments.
“A string band playing on gut strings, with 18th century bows, they are trained, experienced and dedicated to making those instruments sing, knowing intimately the style and character of the music as it was meant to be. The effect is stunning,” she said.
Calvo describes Stephenson as an educator and storyteller.
Of the Winchester program, she said, “Stephenson will explain to us and show us how they do it, how the sound is so right for the music of the time and our time, and for small spaces – so different from large concert halls. He will help us to hear the similarities and differences between the two composers, and the genius of each. His love and enthusiasm for the music is always contagious; his humor makes knowledge fun and history funny, and together the musicians will manage to penetrate the souls of even the most resistant listeners.”
She said Bach and Vivaldi never met but knew of each other.
They were around the same age, with Vivaldi seven years older.
Their homeland cultures, family life, religion, career paths and life experiences were vastly different, Calvo said.
“Most of us recognize Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ and most of us can hum along to Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,’” she said.
Stephenson, a harpsichordist, fortepianist and pianist, is the artistic director and founder of the Madison Bach Musicians.
He received a doctor of musical arts degree in historical performance of 18th century music from Cornell University, has released 15 recordings on the Light & Shadow label and tours throughout the United States as performer and lecturer.
The Madison Bach Musicians presented its first public performances in October 2004 and is dedicated to presenting the music of Bach, as well as works by other composers of the Baroque, Renaissance and Classical periods, both to the general public and to educational institutions through performances, lectures and workshops.
They perform primarily on period instruments, and ensemble sizes are typical of those used by Bach himself.
Kangwon Lee Kim, Madison Bach Musicians’ concertmaster, is a violinist with repertoire ranging from baroque to 21st century using both baroque and modern violins.
She has performed internationally giving solo and chamber recitals and has collaborated with world-renowned musicians.
She has appeared in faculty recitals at the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin and has also taught at Ripon College, the University of Pennsylvania and Lawrence University Conservatory.
Guest cellist Steuart Pincombe can be heard in concert venues across Europe and sometimes in breweries and cafes.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in music in modern cello and a master’s in music in viola da gamba and baroque cello from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Calvo said Stephenson will also present a program at Waupaca Middle School on the afternoon of Sept. 25.
“He will engage them and let them ask questions,” she said. “He will have his orchestra with him, too.”