Sunday, November 07, 2010
The SF Conservatory Baroque Ensemble Plays Bach
Since moving from the suburban Sunset District to Civic Center in late 2006, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music has become an integral part of the performing arts neighborhood. The students are being offered master classes by visiting artists from the San Francisco Symphony, Opera and professional chamber music groups, and in turn the students and their professors are performing for the public in the three concert halls at the new facility almost every day.
Not only do the student and faculty performers receive invaluable experience in front of real audiences, but the majority of concerts are free to the public. It's easily the best deal in town.
Last Halloween Sunday afternoon, the Conservatory Baroque Ensemble tackled the last three of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos along with a suite from Handel's opera "Alcina" and a pair of dances from Rameau's "Les Indes galantes." They were great performances, as good as anything you would hear from a professional troupe. Even though Elisabeth Lowry and Joshua Romatowski (above) were playing flutes rather than original instrument recorders, they were just fine in the Fourth Brandenburg, though they were upstaged by the wildly expressive playing of Mac Kim (below middle) on the violin.
Kim was also the concertmaster for the Handel and Rameau which were conducted by co-director Corey Jamason (below) in a remarkably buoyant style.
Instead of being dull and somnolent, which can happen easily with this music, these renditions made you want to get up and dance.
There was one soloist in one of the Bach concertos who was having some serious pitch problems, but the student's playing partners carried the piece along brilliantly. Worthy of special mention is Esther Lam on harpsichord in the Fifth Brandenburg and Hannah Nicholas (above) on viola in the Sixth.
The school publishes an online calendar of performances which you can get to by clicking here. The Conservatory Baroque Ensemble will be in action again tomorrow on Monday, November 8th at 8PM, featuring songs of Dowland and Campion, and another concert the following Monday the 15th. I can't recommend the group highly enough.