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MUSIC / DANCE : Baroque Fest Goes for Unfamiliar

June 04, 1992|CHRIS PASLES | Chris Pasles covers music and dance for The Times Orange County Edition.

The Corona del Mar Baroque Music Festival "began as an intimate festival experience," says music director Burton Karson, "and that's what it remains" as it approaches its 12th consecutive season.

"We began with strong community support, and we have maintained it. I don't remember what our budget was 12 years ago, but I would guess it was $7,000 or $8,000. It's about $40,000 this year."

Although the costs have risen "remarkably," he says, "we have never, never been in a deficit, for even five minutes. That's because we don't spend money that we don't have."

The five-concert festival opens Sunday at St. Michael and All Angels Church, then continues on Monday, Wednesday and June 12 and 14. The Wednesday and June 12 programs will be in the Sherman Library and Gardens.

Karson also cites the fact that "we try to do unusual things as well as a lot of standard music" as another reason for the series' longevity.

"We never have a group performing on our festival that can be heard elsewhere," he says. "And all the programs are freshly put together, so nothing is a repetition of something that can be heard elsewhere. That appeals to our audiences."

In order to find such unfamiliar material ("a lot of the music has never been done before," he says), Karson often works from original manuscripts or microfilms of manuscripts.

"Hundreds and hundreds of man-hours go into preparing scores and parts, cutting and pasting and copying," he says. "It's an unbelievable chore. I just hope the effort is worth it."

The theme of the festival this year will be 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the New World.

Works reflecting the theme include two cantatas, one composed by Moxo Indians of Bolivia in honor of Queen Maria Luisa of Spain, and the other by Manuel de Zumaya, who Karson said was the first native-born Mexican composer of classical music (both will be performed on Wednesday), and a motet (June 14) by Juan de Padilla, a 17th-Century Spanish composer lived and worked in Mexico.

"The Moxo music is very baroque, but it has a slight Latin lilt to it," Karson says. The Festival Singers will be singing a "phonetic" version of the Moxo language written down by Spanish priests so that "it could be pronounced by Spaniards."

Soloists in the Moxo Indian cantata will be soprano Amy Jarman, currently teaching at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and tenor John Nuzzo, a recent graduate from Chapman University in Orange.

Some of the more familiar composers include Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach and Corelli.

In addition, Stravinsky's arrangement of his "Suite Italienne" for violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky will be played for the first time since 1962, when those eminent musicians performed the work.

Piatigorsky's grandson, Evan Drachman, 29, will be the cellist and Clayton Haslop the violinist (on Wednesday).

"Jacqueline Piatigorsky, his widow, lent me the manuscript for performance at this festival," Karson says.

"This mix of works makes the festival interesting and unusual and artistically very exciting. It's not just a rehash of standard repertory, but there is enough standard repertory that people feel very comfortable in our concerts."

What: 12th Annual Baroque Music Festival of Corona del Mar.

When: Sunday, June 7, at 4 p.m.; Monday, June 8, at 8 p.m., and June 14 at 4 p.m. at St. Michael and All Angels Church. Also Wednesday, June 10, and June 12 at 8 p.m. at Sherman Library and Gardens.

Where: St. Michael's is at 3233 Pacific View Drive. The Sherman Library and Gardens is at 2645 E. Coast Highway.

Whereabouts: For St. Michael and All Angeles Church, take the San Joaquin Hills Road exit off the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway and go south to San Miguel Drive. Turn left and go up the hill to Pacific View Drive, then turn right. For Sherman Library and Gardens, take the Corona del Mar Freeway to MacArthur Boulevard south to Pacific Coast Highway and turn left.

Wherewithal: $15.

Where to Call: (714) 760-7887.

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