Updated: Buzzards Bay Musicfest ‘an absolute triumph’

Jul 13, 2023

MARION — The first night of the 25th Buzzards Bay Musicfest was “an absolute triumph,” said festival President Sally Conkright, describing the July 12 orchestral performances of Mozart and Beethoven overtures, concertos and symphonies.

“The musicians under the conductorship of Antony Walker were literally over the top, they were fantastic,” she said.

The second night on Thursday, July 13, featured the work of composers Robert Schumann, Astor Piazzola, Marcel Grandjany and Max Bruch.

“Last night was all about the electricity of Beethoven and the vocal instrumental beauties of Mozart,” said pianist David Allen Wehr. “Right now you’re going to hear something very soft and very dreamy.”

Wehr described Thursday’s arrangement of Schumann’s “Andante and Variations, Op. 46” as “extremely unusual” because it features two pianos, two cellos and a french horn.

“If anyone has been to a concert and heard a piece with this combination I want you to tell me … because it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “And Schumann composed it realizing that it is an unusual combination.”

The concert on Thursday also featured Grandjany’s “Aria in Classic Style” performed on the harp by a former student of Grandjany, Rita Costanzi.

Following Thursday’s concert of chamber music, the Buzzards Bay Musicfest Swing Band wished the audience peace and “of course we wish [the audience] funk,” said swing band trombonist and director Phil Sanborn.

The swing band took the stage on Friday, July 14.

The swing band played a selection of compositions by Cape Verdean jazz artist Horace Silver, in honor of the Buzzards Bay Musicfest’s 25th “silver” anniversary.

Silver was one of the first jazz artists in the 20th Century to title a piece with the word “funk,” said Sanborn, introducing Silver’s 1953 piece “Opus de Funk.”

The band played music composed by Silver throughout his life, sharing stories of Silver’s life and music.

Following the swing band’s performance, and another chamber performance, the Buzzards Bay Musicfest Orchestra closed out the week-long event on Sunday, July 16.

“I can assure you that under the conductorship of Antony Walker, the artistic direction of Charles Stegeman and the chamber music direction of [Wehr], they have simply rocked this house,” said Conkright.

The orchestra played a selection of Ennio Morricone, Mozart and Beethoven during Sunday’s performance with solos by Brent Hages on Oboe, and Wehr on piano.

And, “in the interest of keeping things spontaneous,” said Walker, the orchestra changed two items on the program to include an overture by Mozart and the “Serenade for Strings” by English composer Edward Elgar.

“I am really thrilled to be back for your 25th anniversary,” said Walker. “I’ve been loving every minute of it with these wonderful musicians, it just feels like such a beautiful family here.”