Berkshire Bach Blasts out the Old, Blasts in the New, at Mahaiwe and Troy

Johann Sebastian Bach

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. and TROY, N.Y.) – Berkshire Bach will ring in the New Year with a blast of brass featuring a septet of horn virtuosi joining the Berkshire Bach Ensemble for concerts featuring works by Haydn, Mozart and Bach at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington on Wednesday, December 31, at 6pm, and at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Thursday, January 1, 2015, at 3pm.

For New Year’s 2014-2015, Berkshire Bach will feature three trumpet virtuosi — Allan Dean, Neil Mueller and Gerald Serfass — augmented by horn virtuosi Ann Ellsworth, Rachel Drehmann, John Gattis and Laura Weiner, and timpani virtuoso Benjamin Harms. Also with an expanded string section this year, the Berkshire Bach Ensemble, led by Kenneth Cooper, will perform a robust and stimulating program of well-known Baroque and classical favorites.

On the program is Haydn’s luxurious Symphony No 31 in D, called Hornsignal for its blatant and witty imitations of the Posthorn calls, those octave signals that accompanied mail deliveries by horse and carriage in the 18th century. It is one of the few 18th century symphonies that boast four French Horns. As a sorbet, the Berkshire Bach Ensemble will play five (maybe six) Mozart Contredanses, written for the Viennese court in the last years of his life.

Also in the 1790s, towards the end of his life, Haydn wrote his famous Trumpet Concerto, which was apparently performed just a few times, then not again until the 1920s. Given Berkshire Bach’s triumvirate of trumpets, Cooper has decided to let them all play this classic concerto, one movement each, and he has written special cadenzas and ornaments for all three players.

Post-intermission fare consists of two Bach classics in special Berkshire Bach versions: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 with its spectacular solos for violin, horns, oboes, bassoon, and percussion, and the brilliant Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D with its three-trumpet-and timpani power and its famous Air for strings.

Berkshire Bach welcomes back many of its devoted artists including concertmaster, renowned violinist Joel Pitchon, violists Liuh-Wen Ting and Irena Momchilova, cellists Roberta Cooper and Lucy Bardo, flutist Alison Hale, oboists Marsha Heller, Meg Owens and Gerard Reuter, bassoonist Stephen Walt, percussionist Ben Harms, and bassist Peter Weitzner, who hasn’t missed a Bach at New Year’s performance since 1993.

The Berkshire Bach Ensemble also welcomes several guest artists in the violin section – Tim Cho, Yoon Jung Yang, Caroline Chin, Ari Isaacman-Beck and Ronald Long, Jr.

Family friendly pricing is available again this year, and as always, students with ID are invited as Berkshire Bach guests.

The New Year’s Day concert at the Troy Music Hall is a co-presentation with WMHT.

Ticketing is through the individual venue box offices.

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