There is still one Boston venue where you can hear live classical music. With under-the-radar consistency, Emmanuel Music continues its decades-long practice of performing Bach cantatas. As part of Sunday liturgy, artistic director Ryan Turner programs a different cantata each week — drawing from the 200 possibilities that Bach left behind — for Emmanuel’s tiny congregation
ZOOM — You are here and you are not here. You are waiting in your bedroom for your next Zoom meeting to start, you are in the shower taking fifteen minutes for yourself away from your kids, or you are putting on your mask, ready to head into work where you’re considered essential staff, but not essential enough for customers to remember to wear their masks when you take their order.
I last heard a live performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s B-Minor Mass back in February 2017, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus did it at Symphony Hall under music director Andris Nelsons. That was, by 21st-century standards, a large-scaled effort, with an orchestra of 44 and a chorus of 116. The presentation Ryan Turner and Emmanuel Music gave Saturday at Emmanuel Church was more modest, with an orchestra of 28 and a chorus of 27
Britten’s rarely produced The Beggar’s Opera ran for two performances this past weekend at Longy. No one could have been surprised to hear so many excellent singers and instrumentalists in Emmanuel Music’s staging, since most of them have been long-time members of the estimable with its famous long-running cantata series
Sanford Sylvan, the American baritone whose introspective eloquence and serene yet commanding presence put him at the center of some of the most important operatic events of recent times, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 65.
The beloved American baritone Sanford Sylvan died Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. Lenore Sylvan, the singer's mother, along with his sister Gwen Sylvan and brother Seth Sylvan confirmed the death to NPR Thursday morning. Marc Mandel, a close family friend and director of program publications at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, said that the death was "entirely sudden" and that it was "deemed to be of natural causes."
Known to Bostonians as frequent collaborator in director Peter Sellars’s and conductor Craig Smith’s re-imaginings of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro (which also appeared in PBS’s “Great Performances”), for his work as a member of Emmanuel Music, for his longtime collaboration with pianist David Breitman in such works as Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, and with the Lydian String Quartet in Fauré’s La bonne chanson, the beloved baritone Sanford Sylvan died yesterday.
Emmanuel Music offered three concerts last weekend, each mixing one of the composer’s three string quartets, at least one song cycle, and at least one individual small chamber music work. Most of the repertory was not exceptionally well known in Britten’s output, but the third concert, which I heard, provided a welcome opportunity to hear two relatively early pieces in the first half and Britten’s final composition in the last.
The second concert in the Emmanuel Music’s Britten festival weekend focused on his second quartet and his setting of sonnets by John Donne with emotionally riveting performances unlike those in the first of the three-concert offering during the night before.
Every season the musical citizens of Emmanuel Music, under its grab-you-by-the-lapels artistic direction of Ryan Turner, can be counted on to bring intensity and commitment to thematically coherent chamber programming. This weekend, songs and string quartets of Benjamin Britten come under their probing lens, with concerts slated for Saturday and Sunday at 3pm, coming after Friday night’s opener.
Performances of Benjamin Britten’s music seem like special occasions in Boston. Yet revivals of the British composer’s more familiar repertoire can cast a shadow over Britten’s smaller works. Fortunately, Emmanuel Music has put together the Britten Chamber Festival, a three-day concert event that showcases the composer’s lesser-known (and some well-known) song cycles and chamber music. Friday night at the church’s Parish Hall, some of the best musicians in Boston revealed why Britten’s music still remains relevant five years after the composer’s centennial.