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Historical Performance's West Coast Debut

Juilliard415, the student Historical Performance ensemble, headed west in November. Along with a quartet of Juilliard singers, the group performed four concerts in Vancouver and then went to California, where it gave a sold-out performance with the renowned Philharmonia Baroque at First Congregational Church in Berkeley. A few days before, other members of Juilliard415 performed with the Yale Schola Cantorum and David Hill at the National Collegiate Choral Organization's biannual convention in Portland, Ore. Benjamin Sosland wrote about the Vancouver and Berkeley parts of the tour.

Juilliard415

Juilliard415 performed with Nicholas McGegan at the CBC studios in Vancouver.

(Photo by Benjamin Sosland)

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There's nothing like a tour to galvanize a group. First off, they get the rare chance to perform the same program many times. This was an extremely busy week, with three performances in as many days, plus a bit of outreach and plenty of rehearsal. And then there are the nonmusical aspects of a tour. We had a great mix of alums and current and secondary-instrument students comprise our group of 22. They represented eight countries on four continents (hands across the sea, indeed). And they got on like a house on fire—imagine orchestra musicians actually smiling at each other while they perform. It's especially rewarding to include non-Historical Performance students in these opportunities; our four singers in particular had the time of their lives. This visit was such a success that we've been invited back for a similar exchange in June, and there's talk of trying to make it an annual event.

In Vancouver, we played two concerts to sold-out houses for the Music in the Morning series, which is overseen by Barry Shiffman ('93, resident quartet). Given the name of the series, whose concerts are at 10:30am, you can probably deduce the general demographic, but age did not dampen the spirits of this fabulous audience, members of whom behaved like groupies (of the gamba!?) after the concert. Overheard: “I don't know why we use these new instruments when the old ones sound so good.” (Maybe this should be our new slogan!) Our students played and sang with vigor and style, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves—and the conductor, Nicholas McGegan, is a delightful showman who brings out the very best in them.

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