RILLING MARKS THE BACH TRICENTENNIAL
By all accounts, the visit to Hollywood Bowl two summers ago by forces from the Oregon Bach Festival was a success. More than 90 singers and instrumentalists from Helmuth Rilling’s annual Northwest Bach feast descended upon Cahuenga Pass for a performance of the Mass in B minor; at its conclusion, a crowd of just under 8,000 listeners cheered the visitors--and Bach.
“We had no idea what would happen,” Rilling recalled in a telephone interview from Eugene, where he is preparing his 16th Oregon festival (Rilling and festival executive director Royce Saltzman put on the first one in 1970).
“At first, we were quite nervous. But, right away, we could hear that the acoustics on the (Bowl) stage were in our favor. The sound there was good and natural. Also, we felt, especially as night came on, a great amount of concentration and interest from the audience.
“At the end, it turned out to be a very positive experience.”
So positive, it will be repeated in the Bowl this week, at the opening of the 1985 preseason series. Oregon Bach Festival forces, again numbering over 90, will present Bach’s “St. Matthew” Passion Tuesday night at 7:30, and the B-minor Mass Wednesday night at the same hour. The 52-year-old German musician will conduct; among the vocal soloists will be Costanza Cuccaro, Julia Hamari, David Gordon, Jan Opalach, Douglas Lawrence and William Parker.
In this Bach year of 1985, Rilling is spending much of his time on tour, from a base of operations in Stuttgart, West Germany, where his year-round Bach academy and institute are located.
“Touring has been our main activity this year,” he says, mentioning, among other stops, visits to Japan (“where we have a Bach institute similar to the one in Eugene”) and to East European countries.
“In Czechoslovakia, in Poland, in East Germany, even in Moscow,” Rilling enumerates, “we felt a deep and emotional response to Bach’s music. It was quite overwhelming.”
What does a Bach specialist and scholar do for an encore, once this tricentennial year is over?
“Of course, less Bach,” Rilling answered. “I will spend time with the Israel Philharmonic, an orchestra with which I have a longstanding relationship. In Israel, we will perform Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah,’ also Mozart’s Requiem, masses by Haydn . . . probably Monteverdi’s Vespers.
“In Eugene, our theme will be ‘Monteverdi to Verdi,’ and we will survey sacred pieces from that range of composers.
“In Stuttgart, our focus of interest will be on ‘Bach and Italy,’ and we will explore Bach’s influences, including Vivaldi and other Italians, and then the influence Bach had on succeeding generations of Italian composers, concluding with a concert performance of Boito’s ‘Mefistofele.’ No, 1986 is going to be busy.”
AN INTENDED PARTNERSHIP: In a joint announcement, the boards of trustees of City Center Ballet of San Jose and Cleveland Ballet have made public their intention “to enter into a partnership to provide professional ballet” to their respective communities in California and Ohio.
The announcement culminates a seven-month search by City Center Ballet for a suitable partner organization. During that time, a five-member search committee looked at a number of national ballet companies in the budget class over $1 million, and then made site visits to six finalists.
“We attended performances and met with trustees of each of the six finalists,” said City Center Ballet President Henry Holth. “We observed the quality of each company’s dancers, repertory, design and technical production elements, along with noting the audience reaction. We also examined the financial position of each organization.”
The winning group, Cleveland Ballet, is a 9-year old, 37-member professional company under the artistic direction of co-founder Dennis Nahat, the former Joffrey and Ballet Theatre dancer and choreographer. Operating under an annual budget of $4 million, the Ohio company boasts an eclectic repertory of 44 ballets.
Partnership negotiations will commence within the next two months, the joint announcement promises.
HONORS: David Raksin received the Award for Career Achievement of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music on June 18 at the Pavilion of the Music Center. Now in his 50th year in the profession, Raksin began his career in film music when he assisted Charlie Chaplin with the music for “Modern Times” in 1935. Since then, he has provided music for some 100 films, including “Laura,” “Forever Amber” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Raksin has also composed scores for more than 300 television shows, including “The Day After,” as well as music for the stage and concert works. He is now writing a work commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation of the Library of Congress.
CalArts-based composer Rand Steiger is one of 26 winners of the 91st annual Rome Prize, presented by the American Academy in Rome to Americans representing 10 fields of artistic endeavor. Steiger, along with the other recipients, will spend six months studying and creating at the academy, beginning in September. The winners will also divide $250,000 in cash stipends.
Los Angeles composer Michel Michelet reports that the slow movement of his Cello Sonata was played “with great success” by Mstislav Rostropovich at a White House recital attended by President Reagan and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi earlier this month. According to Michelet, Rostropovich plans to record the work, which was heard at the cellist’s Gindi Auditorium recital earlier this year.
Speaking of Rostropovich, the winner this year of the $10,000 Hammer-Rostropovich Prize is cellist Torlief Thedeen, 22, of Gransvagen, Sweden. The award is presented through the USC School of Music, where Thedeen will study with Eleonore Schoenfeld beginning in January.
Stephen David Beck, a resident of Los Angeles, is one of 13 winners in the annual Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Award. The San Diego-born composer won for his “Cantata Valentine,” played last summer as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Festival Boulez/LA.
Choreographer Alwin Nikolais has been presented the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award, worth $25,000, which honors American modern dance choreographers for their lifetime contribution to the art.
Composer William Schuman was recently given the Gold Baton award from the American Symphony Orchestra League during its annual conclave in San Francisco. Among past recipients are Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and the late Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy and Arthur Fiedler.