The Diary: Bach Cantata Residency

Monday, 26 June 2017

We spent our Queen's Birthday Weekend in Nelson, surrounded by good music, good people and even better vibes. Multi-day residencies, like this one, always have a particular kind of atmosphere - the idea of a group of people flying from all over the country, as well as Australia and UK (yes you've read that right!), to make music together is always magical. Add Masaaki Suzuki's musicianship and Bach's timeless power and beauty to this, and you have a winning combo.

The three-day residency included workshops, rehearsals with alongside Juilliard415, as well as seminars and talks. The weekend's efforts culminated in a final informal concert at the Nelson Cathedral. Ben Sosland, Administrative Director of the Juilliard's Historical Performance programme, shared his thoughts on the experience. Read on then head to our Facebook page for the full photo story!



“We opened the weekend with the most polished performance thus far. It was just one of those concerts, if you know what I mean. The energy leapt off the stage. Our group played with amazing flexibility and poise. Masaaki was on cloud nine. Rebecca sang as if she owned it. And the concert was delivered to a standing-room only house, or more precisely a standing-room only cathedral. How can I be sure that it was one of those concerts? Because at the interval backstage, Danika Paskvan (violin) asked, “This is one of those concerts, isn’t it.” Yes, indeed it was.

The workshop portion of the weekend put our students in a teaching role. They were stand partners with the participants, who ranged from undergrads to professional musicians in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Most of them had very little experience with period instruments and only a few had ever played in a period ensemble before.  I was along to coach the workshop singers; I haven’t done that in a while and had kind of forgotten how fun it is! Against some considerable odds, the results of this workshop far surpassed our expectations, due in large part to Masaaki’s excellent teaching. A final showcase performance sounded better than it had any right to, and the mere opportunity to facilitate an experience for people who would otherwise not have had it, was extremely rewarding.”

Ben Sosland,  Administrative Director of Juilliard's Historical Performance Programme



Thanks for having us Nelson! Keep an eye out for our video journal on YouTube to see behind the scenes footage and much more.