25 Apr 19
Boulder Daily Camera
Boulder Bach Festival has been delighting fans in the Front Range for 38 seasons. From entrancing performances to community outreach, the longstanding group remains a constant of culture and continues to be a relevant tastemaker by fusing old with new.
During the season finale on May 23, award-wining pianist Mina Gajić — who will take on the role of Boulder Bach Festival’s artistic and executive director in July — will perform Chopin’s “Concerto No. 2 in F Minor” on an 1845 Érard piano — an instrument making its Colorado debut. According to Gajić, the instrument with Parisian-roots could have possibly been played by one of the greats. Sebastien Érard’s well-crafted instruments were so renowned that he obtained a license from King Louis XVI to produce pianos for the French Court.
Award-wining pianist Mina Gajić will take on the role of Boulder Bach Festival’s artistic and executive director in July.
“I appreciate the timelessness of music,” said Gajić, who grew up in Belgrade, Serbia. “A good concert is like a good book, you really have to absorb all of it.”
Her north Boulder home holds several antique pianos, one with eye-catching ornate teal paint and floral designs, an instrument with origins dating back to 1895.
For Gajić these extraordinary historic instruments connect her with musicians of the past, while propelling her own artistry forward. Not just inanimate objects, the ancient wooden grand pianos seem to have a presence all their own — holding the ingenuity and dedication of creatives that came before.
“Playing on these instruments is very different,” said Gajić. “Exploring practices and instruments from the 19th century and before allows us to explore a new palette of colors. It lets us reinvigorate and refresh some of the music we’ve all heard. We bring a more exotic aspect to very familiar pieces. It’s almost like traveling through time.”
The Érard 1845 piano will make its Colorado debut.
Next month’s season finale will open with Boulder Bach Festival’s Fellowship Artists Vocal Ensemble delivering a moving rendition of Brahms’ “Motet Op. 29 No. 1.” The Festival orchestra will be joined by principal players of Händel+Haydn Society, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, American Bach Soloists and Smithsonian Chamber Players. Each will play historic instruments, keeping the authenticity and magic of the repertoire intact.
“I’m hoping that people who have not heard these pieces will love this music,” said Gajić, who started playing piano at age 4 and by age 6 had enrolled in ongoing lessons. “I’m hoping people that are familiar with work, that maybe have heard Chopin’s ‘Concerto No. 2’ 300 times think, ‘Wow, I never knew it could sound like that’.”
As part of Boulder Arts Week, held in early April, the Boulder Bach Festival (BBF) teamed up with 3rd Law Dance to deliver an innovative production blending modern movement with the compelling sounds of electric violin. Never shying away from innovative productions, Gajić wishes to weave more contemporary elements and work of under-the-radar composers into future pieces. While Bach had always been the center point, the heartbeat, soon music from Baroque Mexican composers and other under-the-radar musicians will be heard throughout next season.
In addition to switching up song choice, it’s Gajić’s goal to collaborate with different artists both near and far. A Poland-based accordion piano duo already has plans to travel stateside and participate in BBF’s new season.
New home base, passing the torch
ETown, Boulder’s spot for engaging and intimate productions, will also become the home base for next season. On Wednesday, BBF will officially announce next season’s artists and concerts.
“I feel so privileged to be a part of the Boulder scene,” said Gajić who also is the artistic director of The Art of Duo: Boulder International Chamber Competition. “There’s so much happening in Boulder every day of the year. It’s a really great place to experience music and art.”
From libraries to playhouses, the places where BBF has engaged fans is as varied as the group’s musical offerings.
“Each venue gives us something new to explore with our music,” said Gajić. “I look forward to exploring more historically-inspired pieces of the 19th and early 20th century. One thing that should be debunked about classical music is that it is intimidating. The purpose of music is to connect people and bring them on a journey.”
Boulder Bach Festival’s Zachary Carrettin is passing the artistic and executive director torch in July to Mina Gajic. Carrettin will be taking on the role of music director for the festival.
“What I most look forward to in our season finale is the opportunity to share some of the sounds that Haydn and Chopin heard in their lifetimes,” said Zachary Carrettin, current artistic and executive director of BBF, who will conduct and play violin during the May finale. “With natural horns, period oboes, a gut-strung orchestra and an exquisite Érard piano, we will hear some of those special timbres, harmonic sonorities and vivacious characters that are part of the early music experience.”
With a crew of skilled musicians offering emotion-filled performances, BBF manages to provide stirring shows on stages both big and small. With community outreach being at the group’s core, they make sure to offer more than 20 free events across Boulder in order to remain accessible and pique the interest of future fans. Talk-back sessions with attendees are also woven into insightful productions.
“The most rewarding aspect of being part of Boulder’s creative community has been getting to know our audience,” said Carrettin. “From mountaineers and activists, to scientists, authors and scholars, our audience is comprised of people who make a difference in our region and in our world. They value the universal experience of hearing profound and impactful music in a live concert setting.”
While Carrettin will be passing the torch of artistic and executive director to Gajić this summer, he still plans to remain very much engaged in the upcoming ventures of the BBF.
“By stepping out of the artistic and executive director position and taking on the role of music director, I’ll be able to focus on our ‘Core’ resident group, Compass Resonance Ensemble,” said Carrettin. “Mina and I have been working on this project for several years and in November the BBF will present this special collective of musical artists for the first time. In addition to performing on the series, Core will present free concerts in Boulder County and beyond, focusing on lesser-known ancient music by Jewish composers, women, and music from South America that features native influences — from 400 years ago.”
“Boulder has such a diverse and eclectic art scene,” added Gajić. “There are many people here that appreciate the arts. Support from Boulder residents has allowed us to grow. I’m very excited for the future.”
If you go
What: Boulder Bach Festival Season Finale: The Sound of Romanticism
When: 7:30 p.m. May 23
Where: Boulder Adventist Church, 345 Mapleton Ave., Boulder
More info: boulderbachfestival.org/tickets