The Baroque Music Festival returns to Corona del Mar from June 19 to 26

Baroque Music Festival Orchestra / photo by Gary Payne

Famous classical pianist Andre Watts once said “if I don’t practice one day I can tell, if I don’t practice for two days the critics can tell, if I don’t for three days, the public can tell”.

“It’s honest and absolutely true,” said violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, artistic director and supreme violinist of 42n/a Annual Baroque Music Festival in Corona del Mar June 19-26.

Fortunately, Blumenstock noted that “Playing Baroque music does not have a very high demand like when you play Romantic repertoire – those technical demands are extreme. With Baroque music, there is always a downside if you don’t practice not.

When the pandemic hit, Blumenstock – who normally performs with orchestras and festivals around the world – thought it was a good change to take time off and spend time working in her yard, but when she resumed the violin, “I noticed it had slipped so I got serious about it.

Elizabeth Blumenstock performs at the Baroque Music Festival, Corona del Mar 2018. Photo: Gary Payne

“My normal pre-pandemic life involved being on the road, teaching and playing gigs for 10 out of 12 months – basically living out of a suitcase,” she said. “That reversed during the pandemic. I was home for 10 months and on the road for two months. My ability to organize my life dropped sharply. I am delighted to be back at work and playing again.

Blumenstock regularly performs around the world with the exquisite 17th century Guarneri violin generously loaned to him by the Philharmonia Baroque Period Instrument Trust. In addition to her artistic direction of the Baroque Music Festival (since 2011), she is concertmaster across the country and in Europe of the best baroque ensembles.

“The Guarneri violin is very much a 17th century style, with a very arched belly, carved back, not a flat, smooth shaping instrument,” she said. “It’s very beautiful and has a sound that’s generally bright, clear, smooth, with just right resonance, not as much as some, so it’s a bit dependent on the environment. It is designed to be played in churches.

Fortunately, because many Baroque Music Festival concerts take place in local churches.

Baroque Music Festival at Sherman Gardens

Blumenstock’s selection of Baroque masterpieces for the 2022 Baroque Music Festival includes a grand gala opera by Handel; solo, double and triple concertos by Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and others; orchestral performances and rousing dance suites.

“Our customers can’t wait to get back to live baroque concerts and we can’t wait to make music again,” Blumenstock said. “This is a community festival, and it has been successful for over 40 years, which confirms that we are doing something right. We’ve seen consistent audience growth over the years, but we don’t want to outrun our venues. We’re not trying to be bigger, we’re just trying to be better, and more engaging and accessible to our audience.

South Coast Brass performs at Sherman Gardens during the Baroque Music Festival / photo by Stan Sholik

Calendar of the 42nd Annual Baroque Music Festival

Sunday, June 19, 4 p.m.

St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach

“Many happy comebacks”

Happy to see you again! Elizabeth Blumenstock conducts the Festival Orchestra in Bach’s Concerto for two harpsichords in C major (Ian Pritchard, Matthew Dirst), and his Concerto for two violins in D minor (Blumenstock, Jolianne Einem), as well as the Concerto for two oboes in D minor by Vivaldi (Stephen Marteau, Lot Demeyer). Telemann’s rousing orchestral suite Les Nations and the Polish string concerto complete the program.

Monday, June 20, 8 p.m.

CU Center, Concordia University, Irvine

“Follies & Fantasies”

Acclaimed Houston-based bandleader, organist and harpsichordist Matthew Dirst gives a solo recital on both instruments. The program includes a toccata, an adagio and a fugue by JS Bach and the variations of La Folía by CPE Bach. Dirst’s playing has been described as “expressive and brilliant” by Early Music America. This sees her recital debut for the Festival following the hit concert film ‘A Bach Keyboard Extravaganza’ for us in 2021. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday, June 22, 8 p.m.

Sherman Library and Gardens, Corona del Mar

“Concerts in the Gardens”

A special program of concertos for soloists by Benda, Platti, Umstatt, Vivaldi and Bach; plus Telemann’s Triple Concerto in E major for flute, oboe d’amore and viola d’amore. Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin), David Shostac (flute), Lara Wickes (oboe), Michael Kaufman (cello) and Gabriel Arregui (harpsichord) and strings.

Friday, June 24, 8 p.m.

Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Corona del Mar

“The joy of dancing”

Elizabeth Blumenstock and her colleagues perform lively dances from across Baroque-era Europe, including suites by 17th-century masters Schmelzer and Marini, as well as traditional medleys from the British Isles.

Sunday, June 26, 4 p.m.

St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach

“Festival finale: a Handel gala”

Airs and virtuoso duets, overtures and dances from the most beautiful operas by Handel: Ariodante, Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda. Featuring Dutch coloratura soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and rising star Canadian countertenor Nicholas Burns, with the 2022 Festival Orchestra.

In addition to the paid concerts, the public is invited to listen to baroque music performed outdoors by South Coast Brass, starting 45 minutes before each concert. After all performances, audience members and musicians like to mingle to chat and refresh at a complimentary wine and water reception.

Information and tickets

  • Subscriptions: $285 for the five concerts. The prize includes priority seating at each concert and a private post-concert dinner following the festival finale on Sunday, June 26.
  • Tickets: From $35 to $50 for individual concerts with free seats.
  • Students Go for Baroque rush tickets (12 years and over): $5 the day of the show only, cash only, with student card. Please email [email protected] for more information and to inquire about group bookings.
  • How to buy: Festival subscriptions, individual tickets, full venue information and current COVID safety protocol are available at www.bmf-cdm.org or available by calling (949) 760‐7887.

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