Edward McCue (EM) The September launch of your first season as Music Director with the Boulder Bach Festival was greeted with sold out concerts and very positive press. How did you happen to come up with the theme for this season, “Brandenburg and More?”
Rick Erickson (RE) I felt that it was important to begin my tenure as Music Director by focusing on several things. One of those chief issues was to form an instrumental ensemble with its own identifiable sound and to begin addressing some historical performance goals.
So imagine what a delight and honor it was for me to come to Boulder and meet so many Front Range artists who have already been performing Bach for years. I’m following Bach’s footsteps when I can rely on such marvelous University musicians as Erica Eckert, Christina Jennings and Paul Erhard. And I have the greatest respect for Ann Marie Morgan and Matthew Dane’s work and their commitment to seeing things grow and expand. I also must include Ross Snyder, who will be fulltime with us in the spring performances, along with the Tesla Quartet, and also Mintze Wu, Stacey Brady, Summer Rhodes, Katharine Knight and Karen Terbeek. They are all profoundly gifted artists and have already contributed so much to the Boulder Bach Festival.
And let me say that am thrilled to be working again with Zachary Carrettin. He is a person that I have respected since we first met when I was guest-conducting down in Houston, and he just brings a wealth of experience and passion and ability and grace to us. He is a spectacular addition to the Boulder Bach Festival and will help us to evolve an ensemble language. This spring he has asked that begin to use early bows, rather than modern bows, and it’s my hope that, with Zachary’s leadership, we will evolve into a very tight ensemble that is one of the leading voices of the Festival.
EM So why the Brandenburg Concertos? What’s the history of the Brandenburg Concertos, and what’s so special about them?
RE I want to focus on repertoire that will be both a challenge to the players and also something of a delight to the community, and, my heavens, the Brandenburg Concertos (BWV 1046-1051) certainly seem to fit that bill. I loved doing the first three in September, and I’m looking forward to the last three of the set now coming up very soon at the Festival concerts in February and March.
The Brandenburg Concertos come from Bach’s time in Cöthen, yet the final product was probably derived from works that he had produced earlier. The works are dedicated to Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg, and are dated 1721, just two years before Bach moved to Leipzig. It may be that Bach was actually already casting about looking for a new position and had sent the Concertos to Berlin in hopes of being considered for some office there.
The Brandenburg Concertos are structurally brilliant and are simply delightful. Folks know them and, in many cases, have heard them in many performances and recordings, so they certainly have a popular appeal. We wanted to start with something that would attract attention to our ensemble and bring the community in to celebrate this time with us. The “Brandenburgs” are an awful lot of fun for us to play, and the great reception that the audience has already given us shows that they are enjoying them as well.
EM I certainly do love concerts where there’s smiling both onstage and in the audience, and that’s what happened at the September concert in Denver and at the one in Boulder, too.
So, anyway, I now understand why you chose to feature the Brandenburg Concertos, but, again, this season is called “Brandenburg and More.” What’s the “More?”
RE The “More” is what we’re going to hear during the upcoming concerts of the Festival, especially in the last concert on Saturday evening, the Third of March. In that performance we will hear two cantatas, a Brandenburg Concerto and then a motet, so that we can broaden our understanding of Bach’s musical language.