“He didn’t do it himself but he was the great master.”
The sixth annual festival beginning tonight will transport listeners back more than 300 years to the Baroque era through the music of Bach, his contemporaries and his predecessors — especially when it comes to Saturday night’s concert featuring lute player Lucas Harris of Toronto, Canada. Performing on a theorbo, Harris will play a piece that possibly hasn’t been heard in its entirety for 400 years, Pfund said.
Popular in Bach’s time, a theorbo looks like a gigantic guitar with 16 to 20 strings. The instrument is rarely seen today and requires a lot of tuning and tremendous skill to play, Pfund said.
“This thing has a neck on it that’s like 6 feet long. I had to buy an extra seat on the airplane for him to travel with it.”
Harris will perform a set of 1627 pieces called German Villanelles, which are rustic Italian songs set to German poetry. This particular work was written for a wedding. The poetry will be sung in German by Pfund, an assistant professor of voice at UI, and other singers with an
English translation provided for the audience. Harpsichord, violin and cello will also be featured.
Harris has one line of note to work with and then he will “realize,” or create, the rest of what will happen, Pfund said. “Much of this is like jazz, it’s improvised.”
Harris is one of the finest lute players in the world, Pfund said. “He’s definitely in the top five. … Usually you have to go to New York, Toronto or Berlin to hear people who can do this. It’s really, really special.”
There are many Bach festivals around the world. UI’s festival focuses on music, not academics, Pfund said.
“In layman’s terms, fun classics. We’re really trying to bring really interesting programs to the community.”
Tonight’s opening concert will feature works by Bach’s contemporaries, including Antonio Vivaldi and flutist Johann Quantz with performances by members of the UI and Washington State University brass departments; Brian Hodges, assistant professor of cello at Boise State University; and other regional musicians.
Harris will teach free master classes open to the public Friday at the UI’s Haddock Performance Hall. At 10:30 a.m., he’ll present a guitar master class. At 3:30 p.m., he’ll present a continuo master class.
If You Go
What: “Streams to Bach,” University of Idaho Bach Festival
When: Thursday, Jan. 12 through Saturday, Jan. 14 Moscow
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12 – Opening Gala Concert, University of Idaho Haddock Performance Hall, $3-$5
Noon Friday, Jan. 13 – Bach in the Round student concert, Idaho Commons Rotunda, free
Noon Saturday, Jan. 14 – Organ recital, First Presbyterian Church, 405 S. Van Buren St., free
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 – Closing Gala Concert, Haddock Performance Hall, $3-$5