Sunday, September 16, 2012

Zuill Bailey Plays His 300 Year Old Cello At APU

Friends invited us to last night's great Sitka Summer Music Festival* Anchorage Autumn concert and I want to alert folks there's another concert this afternoon and another next Friday.

I don't keep current with what's going on in music nationally that much, so I didn't really know the name Zuill Bailey before last night, but I do now.  In the picture below, he's in the upper left giving an introduction to the concert - and telling us we can use our cell phones at this concert, if the electricity goes out, to light the room.  He's also holding the cello in the upper right.  But you can see (and hear) him better in the NPR video below.  The YouTube intro points out that his cello is very special,
built by the renowned Venetian maker Matteo Goffriller in 1693. That means Johann Sebastian Bach was all of 8 years old when Goffriller slapped on the final layer of shellac. 

In the main part of this photo you can see violist Sandra Robbins (l-r), the pianist Eduard Zilberkant, the page turner, and the oboist Catherine Weinfield, before they played Charles Loeffler's Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano. (I can read the program.)   As a failed junior high school oboist, I could appreciate how she didn't break her reed just before this piece with many solos, and I noticed how many reeds she had in her case when she took it out.  I also appreciated how beautiful the oboe is when someone can really play it.

I'm afraid that violinist Elmar Oliveira is just a speck holding a violin in the upper right hand picture, but he and violist were wonderful in the opening piece, Handel's Passacaglia for Violin and Viola.

I don't have a lot to say. It was a wonderful trip to another reality for two hours.  It's great to hear world class musicians in the tiny Grant Hall at Alaska Pacific University with its great acoustics and where you can see the musicians as well as hear them from whatever seat you're in.

So if you can, go this afternoon at 4pm.  There should be a couple of tickets available and maybe the rain will mean more than a few people will be giving up their seats if you just show up.  The chance to see and hear Zuill Bailey in this space may not happen again soon.  (Or maybe it will since he's the Artistic Director of the Sitka Music Festival.) 

There's another concert Friday at the Discovery theater featuring pianist Piers Lane -
"No praise could be high enough for Piers Lane whose playing throughout is of a superb musical intelligence, sensitivity, and scintillating brilliance."  Bryce Morrison, Gramophone
- AND Zuill Bailey. It's still a small, but not quite as intimate a venue, and it should be incredible. 

Here's the NPR video with Zuill Bailey:

*The official name for this concert series is Alaska Airlines Autumn Classics, but I have this difficulty with commercializing everything. Yes, it's great that Alaska Airlines supports this festival, but they can do that because they often charge Alaskans more to fly to Seattle or rural Alaska than to LA or other locations. I'd even be ok if this were called the Sitka Autumn Classics, sponsored by Alaska Airlines. So, yes, thank you Alaska Airlines for making this possible, but please be a little more modest and respectful, since it's really all Alaskans who support this through your often exorbitant airfares. (I just looked up flying to Seattle next Saturday and the cheapest flight available is $471 one way!)


  1. We were extremely lucky here in Your Fair Capital City last weekend to hear Zuill play all 6 of the Bach Cello Suites in one evening. What in incredible musician playing such delightful music on such a wonderful instrument!

    Paul Rosenthal did the right thing to find Zuill as his replacement as Artistic Director of the Sitka Festival.

  2. Oboe, Steve? I played as well, but started on clarinet. Anyway, the real reason for this post is to proudly display my discovery of that wonderful German product, Ahoi Brause (my new profile pic).

  3. Glad to hear you got to see him Harpboy! I'm jealous. I would love to have been there. I've listened to my Rostropovich CD of the cello suites at least 1000 times.

    Jacob - your profile isn't working. ): OK, I see, the little picture by your name. But when I click your name it doesn't work.

    Hey, the duck made me do it.


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