This fall, Benjamin Sosland reported from the Bay Area about a Historical Performance-infused concert series.
Greetings from San Francisco. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has been performing a set of concerts called Vivaldi the Teacher, and the programming concept is fabulous. Three very recent HP alums (Alana Youssefian, violin; Keiran Campbell, cello; and David Dickey, oboe) are playing double concertos alongside their Juilliard teachers, who are also members of PBO: Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; Phoebe Carrai, cello; and Gonzalo Ruiz, oboe. Our longtime friend and frequent Juilliard guest conductor Nicholas McGegan is the conductor. The first concert was in San Francisco’s beautiful, if acoustically dry, Herbst Hall. [There were four concerts in the series, which also included two performances in Berkeley and one in Palo Alto.]
It was great: the side-by-side concept instilled what I would call a healthy competition. Our alums had to prove their mettle alongside their far more experienced mentors, while our faculty, who have the advantage of experience but not necessarily of youthful fearlessness, had to make sure they weren’t shown up by their protégés! An added frisson of excitement came from the fact that a few hours before Elizabeth Blumenstock stepped onstage, her daughter went into labor. It was one of the fastest Vivaldi concertos I’ve ever heard—Elizabeth dashed to the hospital when she was done to welcome her grandchild into the world.
The Herbst Hall audience cheered and cheered (who doesn’t love a little Vivaldi?), and I was so proud to know that the HP program’s reach was extended yet again and that three promising alums had an amazing career boost: a concerto debut right out of school with one of the leading period-instrument orchestras in the country. We’ve had a number of collaborations with PBO over the years. It’s great for them; it’s great for us, and we’re exploring ways to continue our alliance.
Benjamin Sosland (MM ’03, DMA ’08, voice) is the assistant dean for the Kovner Fellowships, administrative director of Juilliard Historical Performance, and a member of the college faculty