BRATTLEBORO—The Blanche Moyse Chorale presents a program of four cantatas by J.S. Bach, dedicated to the memory of beloved baritone Sanford Sylvan, on Friday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m., at the Brattleboro Music Center.
Under the direction of Mary Westbrook-Geha, the Chorale has selected four cantatas that Sylvan sang during more than 20 years of warm affiliation with the Chorale and with the New England Bach Festival and Marlboro Music Festival. Sylvan died suddenly in January at age 65.
“He was the truest singer of his generation,” wrote F. Paul Driscoll in Opera News. “The most powerful element of Sylvan’s singular magic was his purity of intention, which allowed him to sing everything with startling, uncompromising clarity.”
Jonathan Blumhofer of The Arts Fuse wrote, “Sylvan’s impact on his field was immense and broad, be that as muse, performer, or teacher.”
The Oct. 11 and 13 performances of the four cantatas will feature the Blanche Moyse Chorale and the Blanche Moyse Memorial Orchestra. The cantatas which Sylvan performed with them over the years span a range of moods and musical styles.
The Chorale and orchestra will be joined by vocal soloists Hyunah Yu (soprano), Steven Paul Spears (tenor), Katherine Maysek (mezzo-soprano) and Nathaniel Sullivan (bass).
From 1998 to 2004, Yu and Spears often joined Westbrook-Geha and Sylvan as soloists at the New England Bach Festivals and Marlboro Music Festivals. Maysek and Sullivan were students of Sylvan.
In a 2001 interview, Sylvan spoke of the significance of his work with Blanche Moyse, which he said was among the most influential in a career that included work with Pierre Boulez, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Christopher Hogwood, James Levine, and Simon Rattle, not to mention frequent collaborations with Peter Sellars and John Adams.
“She was kind of a musical godmother to me,” said Sylvan. “Blanche was the standard for all of us. ... She got to the bottom of it all, all the time, and she expected you to go there with her.”