The festival opens on Saturday, September 1, at 7:30 pm, with “The Magnificent Mr. Handel!” on the Guilford tracker organ. Clark Anderson plays keyboard versions of Handel’s overture to Semele, Voluntary No. 2 in C, the Pastorale from Il Pastor Fido, the aria “Dank sei dir, Herr,” and the Passacaglia from Sonata No. 4. He will be joined by members of the Guilford Chamber Players in a suite from the “Royal Fireworks Music” and Organ Concerto No. 13 (“The Cuckoo and the Nightingale”).
This will be Anderson’s second appearance at the Organ Barn. In addition to his role as organist, Anderson conducted last December’s Messiah Sing for Friends of Music at Centre Church in Brattleboro.
On Sunday, September 2, at 2 pm, the Guilford Festival Orchestra will be heard outdoors on the lawn. Ken Olsson makes his debut as conductor for this event, though he’s hardly new to Friends of Music. He heroically presided at the keyboard at last Labor Day weekend’s organ recital in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, and last February served as piano accompanist for his wife, soprano Julie Johnson Olsson.
This year’s orchestra program begins with the “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from Handel’s oratorio “Solomon.” Then, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of English composer Frederick Delius, the orchestra plays his two evocative sketches “On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring” and “Summer Night on the River.” Next, soprano Kristen Carmichael-Bowers sings two lilting Mozart arias, Susanna’s “Deh vieni non tardar” from “The Marriage of Figaro” and Zerlina’s “Batti, batti” from “Don Giovanni.” Carmichael-Bowers, a graduate of Smith College and the New England Conservatory, teaches voice at the Brattleboro Music Center, The Putney School, and Northern Stage; she has been active as a recitalist as well as a performer in opera and oratorio.
The first half of the program closes in celebration of another 150th birth anniversary, that of Claude Debussy, with three rarely heard piano pieces from the earliest to last stages of his career, in chamber orchestra arrangements made for this occasion by Zeke Hecker: “Hommage à Haydn,” “Berceuse héroïque,” and “Danse bohémienne.”
The concert continues with the premiere of a work by Hecker for soprano and string orchestra, “Property,” set to a poem by Sandra Adams. Carmichael-Bowers again serves as soloist. The final orchestra work will be Haydn’s Symphony No. 83. The festival’s traditional finale is a sing-in of Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia,” for which audience members are invited up front to join the orchestra players in forming the chorus.
The Labor Day Weekend Festival is held at the Organ Barn on Kopkind Road. Admission to both events is by donation. For the Sunday concert, the grounds open at 12 pm to picnickers. A hearty vegetarian lunch is available for sale. In case of rain the Sunday event, both lunch and concert, will be relocated to the Guilford Central School at 374 School Road, four miles up the Guilford Center Road from the Country Store.
For more information go to www.fomag.org or call (802) 254-3600.