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Concerto Di Natale at St. Anthony's

Soprano Holly Bewlay

Camerata di Sant’Antonio offers a Christmas treat

The Camerata di Sant’Antonio offers its annual holiday concert at 7pm on Sunday, December 12, at its home in St. Anthony of Padua RC Church in downtown Buffalo, behind City Hall. The concert, under the baton of the group’s music director Christopher Weber, showcases a varied program of works by Giuseppe Sammartini, J. S. Bach, and Edvard Grieg.

Born in Milan Italy in 1695, oboist Giuseppe Sammartini was the son of French oboist Alexis Saint-Martin and the older brother of the better-known composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, also an oboist. Initially taught by their father, Giuseppe and Giovanni played in the orchestras in their native Milan, before Giuseppe moved, first to Brussels in 1729, and then on to London, where he spent the rest of his life. His virtuosity on the oboe enabled Giuseppe to enjoy a very successful career as a musician during the 1730s, playing in the orchestras of Handel, then at the height of his popularity as the greatest living composer in England. Appointed music director in the household of the Prince of Wales in 1736, Sammartini held this post until his death in 1750. A very prolific composer, mainly of chamber music for wind instruments, Sammartini also composed one set of six concertos, published as his Op. 5. The Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 5, No. 6 is often referred to as the Concerto di Natale (Concerto of the Nativity), and while the lovely slow movement, marked “Pastorale: Andante sostenuto” is often played by itself, the entire work will be performed on this program.

Among his massive output of cantatas, J. S. Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51 (“Praise God in all Lands”) is one of only five sacred cantatas that he wrote featuring a soprano, and no other vocalist. The highly virtuosic work calls for a high C in the soprano part, in both the first and the last movements. It is also as challenging for the trumpet soloist, in this performance BPO trumpet player Geoffrey Hardcastle, who has to trade melodic lines on an equal basis with the soprano. Guest soprano Holly Bewlay began her vocal training at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, while she earned her master’s in music and doctorate in musical arts degrees at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. Now an assistant professor at Buffalo State College, where she serves as vocal coordinator, teaches applied voice, vocal pedagogy, and aural perception, Bewlay continues to maintain a very active professional career as a singer in recitals, oratorios and operas throughout Northeastern America.

Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg originally composed his lyrically delightful Holberg Suite, Op. 40 for piano in 1884, in celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Norwegian-Danish author and playwright Ludvig Holberg. The original name of the piece is actually “From Holberg’s Time,” and it also appropriately bears the subtitle “Suite in olden style,” since Grieg used 18th-century dance forms, such as the sarabande, the gavotte, and the rigaudon, as the basis for his composition. He later arranged the work for string orchestra, and that is the version most often heard today, having become one of the most often performed compositions by string orchestras world-wide.

As always, the program will be followed by a reception where you can meet the performers and enjoy Italian Christmas treats and refreshments. Tickets are $17. For information, call 854-2563.

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