Bach once again: annual music festival under way

The 18th Bach and Beyond concert, a Baroque music festival, commenced Friday night at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. The crowd of classical enthusiasts listened as the music, performed by strings and woodwinds, filled the Opera House.

The Bach and Beyond music festival is comprised of Baroque music, with music performed in an ideal Victorian setting. This year, the program includes works from J.S. Bach, Handel, Telemann, and more. The program Friday night included a 21st century composition of Bach’s VIIIth fugue, by artistic director and conductor, Grant Cooper.

Cooper has made public performances in Fredonia for five decades – beginning in his early 20s. He told the crowd during a conversation before the concert that the support he receives from the people of Fredonia is amazing, and he feels honored.

“In all truth, no other place on earth has been this supportive of me and my musical life, nor ever can be,” Cooper stated in the program to the audience. “I am, and will forever remain, eternally grateful for this support.”

Cooper also said that the goal of this year’s festival is to present the extraordinary achievements of Bach. In doing so, he wants listeners to establish connections to modern-day music put out by composers with Bach’s influential works, for Bach’s art made music potent. It’s the powerful music of Bach that has influenced Cooper as a composer and musician.

The performance during Friday night included many musicians, including soprano Janet Brown, violinists Julie Leven and Jennifer Wood, and young harpist Heidi Morey.

Morey, age 15, took stage after intermission with the rest of the musicians, and wowed the crowd in the performance of the “Concerto de Harp.” Morey, from Morgantown, West Virginia, has played the harp since she was 9 years old. She has performed with many symphonies including the New Youth Symphony. She has also performed at the governor’s mansion.

The concert concluded with Geminiani’s, “La Follia,” and after, the crowd gave all the performers a standing round of applause.

The 18th annual festival continues throughout the weekend with more music from the works of Bach, Telemann, and other composers. The events are made possible due to the support from organizations and individuals.

Before each concert will be a 30-minute discussion with maestro Grant Cooper. The conversation includes the themes of music being performed during the concert, specific instances within the performance to look for, and the connection between today’s music and Bach. This conversation gives people the chance to ask Cooper questions, allowing them to gain insight and information into the music.

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