Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

The 36th annual Sonora Bach Festival, a four-weekend event celebrating classical music in the Mother Lode, will open Sunday and continue through Oct. 28 at various locations in and around Sonora.

Each event will highlight professional guest artists and local talent. Individual or series tickets are available at Mountain Bookshop in The Junction shopping center, Sonora Music in downtown Sonora, by calling 536-6330 and online at

The 2012 festival will begin with the annual Youth Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Presbyterian Church of the 49ers in Columbia.

Twenty-three young musicians and vocalists will perform.

Guest artist will be soprano Celeste Wychopen, a former participant in the youth concerts. Wychopen said she is honored to return to the Sonora Bach Festival as a guest artist. The Bach youth concerts were a vital part of her vocal training and strongly influenced her decision to pursue a degree in music.

This year she received her bachelor's degree in vocal music from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine.

During her time at the university, she was thrilled by the many performance opportunities available in the school of the arts and beyond.

She traveled with the UC Irvine choir to perform the Frank Martin "Mass" at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and sang in the Children's Chorus for the schools presentation of Humperdink's "Hansel and Gretel."

At the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, she sang in concerts held in churches dating from the 15th century and performed as one of the spirits in Mozart's "Magic Flute" at the Royal Palace of Casserta.

She said her voice teacher, Zoe Kramer, inspired her to study opera, and her parents' whose unconditional support allowed her to follow her dreams.

Tickets to the Youth Concert are $5, under 18 free.

Here's the rest of the festival schedule:

• Salon Concert featuring Robin Fisher, lyric coloratura soprano, accompanied by Hatem Nadim, piano, Saturday, Oct. 13, 6 p.m., private home in East Sonora. Fisher has performed to critical acclaim in such cities as Paris, Vienna, Prague, Hamburg, Chicago and Dallas. Press reviews remark on her "amazingly precise coloratura, melting diminuendi, splendid high notes and delightful musicality." Enjoy casual dining with local wines until 7:30 p.m. After the concert, desserts will be served. Admission is $35 and reservations are required by calling 536-6330.

• Master Class Workshop for Vocalists with Robin Fisher, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2 to 4 p.m., Church of the 49ers, Columbia. Fee is $25. For availability of space, call 536-6330.

• Locals Concert: Sunday, Oct. 21, 3 p.m., Church of the 49ers, Columbia. Local musicians will be featured in a concert format. Arrive early for choice seating. Admission is $10.

• Bach's Brunch, Sunday, Oct. 28, 12:30 p.m., Twain Harte Golf Club. Music for this popular champagne brunch will be provided by The Three Guitars - David Chapman, Guy Powell and Travis Silvers. Admission is $30. Advance reservations are required by calling 536-6330.

The Sonora Bach Festival is a nonprofit organization. In the mid-1970s, a small group of musicians regularly gathered at the Twain Harte home of Carl Anton Wirth to perform the immortal music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Some played instruments or sang, while others delighted in the performances during the festival's modest beginning.