Joseph Sargent holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University and teaches at the University of San Francisco.
Articles by this Author
The best chamber music performances often convey the impression of a conversation among friends. Sometimes one party commands the discussion, at other times someone else takes charge, but everyone seems fully engaged no matter who has the floor. Hearing the Baroque chamber ensemble La Monica in performance Saturday at Berkeley's St. John's Presbyterian Church was like witnessing an extended dialogue, one whose subject matter might be unfamiliar but that nonetheless left you enthralled.
For most choral aficionados, the words English anthem call to mind the rich repertoire of English-texted music for the Anglican liturgy. But this term has a different meaning for George Frideric Handel, whose set of 11 Chandos Anthems share more in common with Bach's cantatas than Byrd or Purcell.
In an increasingly crowded field of Bay Area choral ensembles, the three-year-old Artists' Vocal Ensemble (AVE) manages to stand out from the pack. One of its distinctions is director Jonathan Dimmock's commitment to social justice, as demonstrated by his latest concert set, a benefit for the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance. Equally important, Dimmock assembled for this concert a roster of 13 high-caliber singers, who produced an extremely polished choral sound. His program of sacred music from masters of the late Renaissance, performed Friday at San Francisco's St.
J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor of 1747-49 (BWV 232) is a curious creature. This late vocal masterpiece was conceived as a series of independent Mass sections, rather than as a unified whole. Bach wrote its component parts over the course of some two decades, in widely divergent circumstances and for various audiences. Owing to this hybrid heritage, the piece contains a multiplicity of musical styles — everything from traditional fugue and counterpoint to more startling chromaticism and stark homophony.