Glencoe concert features music of Bach’s sons
David Rubens, conductor
‘The Bach Boys’
North Shore Chamber Arts Ensemble, North Shore United Methodist Chuch, 213 Hazel Ave., Glencoe
4 p.m. Sunday, May 20
$35 for adults, $25 for seniors, $10 for children and students
Call (847) 835-1227 or visit www.chamber-arts-ensemble.org
Updated: May 15, 2012 9:52PM
Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, 10 of whom survived to adulthood. The great composer himself came from a family of musicians, so it is no surprise that some of his own sons followed in their father’s footsteps.
Music by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach will be performed Sunday, presented by the North Shore Chamber Arts Ensemble.
The program includes C. P. E. Bach’s Symphony in D major; J. C. Bach’s “Aria di Arsinda” from “La Clemenza di Scipione,” with soprano Nancy Wiebe Mazurowski, and his Overture from “Astarto,” “Re de Tiro,” as well as W. F. Bach’s Sinfonia in D minor.
C.P.E. was the fifth child and second surviving son of J.S. and his first wife Maria Barbara Bach. J. C. was Bach’s youngest child, with his second wife Anna Magdelena Bach and is often called the London Bach. W. F. is the second child and eldest son of Bach and his first wife.
“They were all very active composers,” said David Rubens, principal conductor and artistic director of the ensemble, which consist of 17 players for this concert.
“J.C. Bach, for example, composed operas for major companies in Italy, France Germany and England,” he added. “He wrote an aria for a lyric coloratura which was a model for an aria Mozart later composed for his ‘Abduction from the Seraglio.’ Mozart studied with C.P.E., so he must have heard it.”
And W. F. Bach, he explained, was the most adventurous of the three. “He had a small output,” Rubens said. “We are playing his Sinfonia in D minor, which has some interesting contrapuntal passages. You can hear the foreshadowing of the classical era in his music.”
Soprano soloist is Nancy Wiebe Mazurowski, who will sing “Aria di Arsinda” from J.C. Bach’s opera “La Clemenza di Scipione.”
“It’s a killer,” the conductor said, without any sign of exaggerating. “Bach’s boys were really great men in their own right.”
Working with Rubens on the project is Carlos Figueredo, a tenor who sings with the North Shore Chamber Arts Ensemble. He is a Northwestern University graduate who studied with the legendary voice teacher Norman Gulbrandsen.
Rubens himself was a singer and began conducting when he was about 14 years old. “My first voice teacher was Sherrill Milnes,” he said. “I was a dramatic baritone and had a solo role in Handel’s ‘Messiah.’”
He was twice a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Competition and was assistant stage director among other things at the New York City Opera for 25 years. He was a invited to become a member of the Actors Studio in New York.
A graduate of New Trier High School, he grew up in Glencoe and returned a few years ago to his 19th century family home, which has a living room ideal for salon concerts.
“The North Shore Chamber Arts Ensemble is just finishing its second season,” he said. “I want this to become a permanent part of the cultural scene here. Writers’ Theatre began small and has made Glencoe a cultural destination.
“I believe there is an audience for daytime concerts of a reasonable length,” he declared. “Our programs are about an hour and 10 minutes long — about as long as a movie. Plus we have a reception afterward. Everyone is home by 6 p.m.”
Plans are already in place for the 2012-2013 season, which begins in December with the “Messiah” and concludes next spring with Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
“If we build it the audience will come,” said Figueredo with a wink.
And for this program, they both emphasize, WFMT Fine Arts Circle Members can get two tickets for the price of one.
“Just bring your membership card,” Rubens said, adding that this tribute to the sons of J.S. Bach, can also be a terrific bargain.