By Rich Archbold, Long Beach Press Telegram
POSTED: 05/15/15, 3:13 PM PDT
If you closed your eyes, you could have imagined you were back in the 18th century listening to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Just as the audiences of that time listened to the music of the classical music masters so, too, would you if you had been to a performance last week of Musica Angelica in Long Beach.
When you opened your eyes, you would have found yourself in the spacious backyard of the home of Jane Close Conoley, the president of Cal State University, Long Beach.
Under starry skies, an all-star cast of world-class musicians delighted the audience, using instruments closely matching those of the 17th and l8th centuries.
It was a “Welcome to Long Beach” for the baroque musical group which was formerly based in Santa Monica but is planning to make the Center Theater its new home for the 2015 season, which begins in September.
Mayor Robert Garcia officially welcomed the musicians and their director, Martin Haselbock, to Long Beach.
“Musica Angelica is a world-class musical group coming to a world-class city,” Garcia said to a beaming Haselbock nodding his head in agreement.
Haselbock said Musica Angelica actually started in Long Beach more than 20 years ago as a much smaller group.
“So this is actually a homecoming,” he said to applauding attendees.
Garcia and Haselbock praised Steve Goodling, CEO and president of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, for orchestrating the move of Musica Angelica to Long Beach.
Goodling called the move by Musica Angelica a major addition to the arts and cultural scene in Long Beach.
Musica Angelica was founded in 1993 and grew into a world-class ensemble using period instruments from the time of masters like Bach, Mozard, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and Heinrich Biber.
Haselbock said the use of period instruments helped to make a musical experience of rediscovery for audiences.
The classical sound of the ensemble comes from a combination of authentic instruments, like many of the violins as well as re-creations of antique struments, according to Richard Guzman, the Press-Telegram’s arts and entertainment reporter.
The musicians use lighter baroque bows, woodwinds with few keys, brass with no valves, harpsichhords and lutes.
And the musicians themselves are outstanding. featuring world-renown baroque soloists:
- Ilia Korol, concertmaster and violin soloist, is from Kiev and a leading specialist in early music.
- Justin Bland specializes in playing the difficult, high-register music for baroque trumpet.
- Stephen Schultz has been called “among the most flawless atists on the baroque flute” by the San Jose Mercury News.
The musical group, in addition to performing, wants to build a relationship with students through the Long Beach Unified School District and Cal State Long Beach.
James Petri, in charge of music education for Long Beach Unified, said specific plans are being worked on so students can interact with Musica Angelica.
The group also is planning to be part of the district’s plans to introduce an after-school program, Harmony Project, at four elementary schools: Chavez, Edison, Addams and Harte.
The Harmony Project is being supported by the Long Beach Education Foundation and the Long Beach Police Department.
The program is scheduled to start in the fall and include a total of 200 second- and third-grade students.
Musica Angelica is, indeed, a welcome addition to the Long Beach arts scene. Just close your eyes and imagine what’s coming.