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The Sonora Bach Festival, which is celebrating its 40th year, will presents its Youth Finalists Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in Columbia.
The concert will feature 15 musicians between the ages of 7 and 17. Former Tuolumne County resident and current University of the Pacific voice major Savannah Bailey will be the guest artist accompanied by Monica Swope.
Students will perform music by composers of the baroque and classical eras. Accompanists for some of the soloists will be Gail Johnson and Joy Willow.
Selected in September by audition, all the students were evaluated and given written comments by the judges. The panel of three judges were Kyle Dooley, music instructor at Soulsbyville Elementary School; Daryl Hollinger, adjunct music instructor at Columbia College; and Ron Randall, conductor of the Sonora Hills Chorus.
“The audition process is meant to be a challenging one for the students,” said Sandra Betti, the concert coordinator and festival director. “By requiring them to audition, we are helping them to confront stage fright and to work toward the goal of perfecting a piece for musical performance. These challenges are both wonderful skills for performing musicians to learn.”
In addition to learning performing skills, the selected students were also given a scholarship to serve as an additional incentive in their studies.
In keeping with theme of the festival, students are required to learn music from the 1600s through the 1700s. Music to be performed by the students, in addition to that of Johann Sebastian Bach, includes composers Caldara, Scarlatti, Johann Christian Bach, Gluck, Benda, Sarti, Clementi, and Lotti.
The program will feature six singers, seven pianists and two violinists.
Students performing at the concert are Benjamin Billiet, Jake Boyd, Jade Coard, Dorothy Davenport, Alissa DeAnda, Alexandria Dowie, Genevieve Florez, Hannah Husher, Sabrina Jensen, Daniel Kook, Jonathan Kristapovich, Hunter Riordan, Lena Rosen, Louise Rosen, and Stephanie St. Clair. Teachers of students who will be performing are Ron Brickman, Gail Johnson, Trudi Kraus, Louise McPeeters, and Carolyn Sylva.
This year’s guest artist is former Soulsbyville and Connections Academy student Savannah Bailey. She is a junior vocal performance major at the University of the Pacific studying with voice professor Lynelle Wiens. A member of the Opera Theatre’s program, Bailey has performed in productions of “Berlin to Broadway: A Kurt Weill Musical Review,” Mozart’s unfinished opera “The Goose of Cairo (L’oca del Cairo),” “Brundibar” by Czech composer Hans Krasa and Offenbach’s “La Vie Parisienne.”
Having grown up in Soulsbyville, Bailey immersed herself in music and performance. According to her former Tuolumne County voice teacher, Louise McPeeters, she dedicated herself “to perfecting her voice” and “was supported in all of her musical endeavors by her loving family.”
As a Connections Academy student, she performed in “The Sound of Music,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Into the Woods,” and other productions. She also performed with the Show Choir, Zero Hibernation Jazz Band and the Orange Crush Band.
This is a return of sorts to the Bach Festival for Bailey. Having begun vocal studies in 2011 with McPeeters, Bailey became a regular performer at the Bach Festival Youth Concert throughout her high school years. She was also a winner in the Red Church Scholarship Auditions.
“Savannah Bailey is one of the finest students I have had the privilege to teach,” McPeeters said. “She is a joyful young woman who shares that joy through her beautiful singing.”
Her program for the concert will include “Stizzoso Mio Stizzoso” by Pergolesi, “Lachen Und Weinen” by Franz Schubert, “Chanson d’amour” by Gabriel Faure, and “Mein Herr Marquis” from “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss.
Bailey will be accompanied by University of Pacific staff accompanist Monica Swope, who holds a degree in vocal performance. She has been a director of many musical productions at the university, including “Paint Your Wagon,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and others. Swope also has extensive experience as a vocal soloist.
Tickets to Sunday’s concert are available online at sonorabach.org or by calling (209) 536-6330. Tickets will also be available at the door at the Church of the 49ers, 11155 Jackson St. in Columbia.
Sunday’s concert is the second event of the festival, which is held each October.
Sonora’s festival, like many other Bach festivals, began with the vision of one or two people. Carl Wirth, a renowned composer (particularly of music for classical saxophone), teacher and conductor, left Rochester, New York, where he was a student and also a faculty member. He eventually ended up in Twain Harte. In 1976, on the front porch of his home and at the Eproson House Restaurant, he, and other musicians founded the Sonora Bach Festival. It was an informal gathering where those in attendance brought their own instruments, organizers said.
“We hold a different and diverse event each weekend in October, which allows us to offer a wide range of musical experiences to our audience,” Betti said. “October is the perfect month for the festival as the weather is beautiful, the fall colors are out, and our mountain community is at its most charming.”
• What: Youth Finalists Concert.
• When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
• Where: Church of the 49ers, 11155 Jackson St., Columbia.
• Admission: $5; children free.
• Information: sonorabach.org, (209) 536-6330.
Sonora Bach Festival
• Saturday, Oct. 15 — Chamber Orchestra Concert; Sonora; $30.
• Sunday, Oct. 23 — Locals Concert; Columbia; $10.
• Sunday, Oct. 30 —Bach’s Brunch; Sugar Pine; $35.