Big Band

Principal Conductor Paul Goodwin was looking for something “big” to open the Carmel Bach Festival. He found it with Haydn’s The Creation, which is also “complex, but accessible.”

Being the artistic director of anything is a big job, be it a local theater or dance company, a Broadway or traveling show, or even an art gallery. But being the artistic director and principal conductor of a prestigious 82-year-old festival which will offer 48 concerts over the next 14 days is a whole different beast.

Paul Goodwin, now in his ninth season in just such a post, seems surprisingly calm and composed without a smidgen of preoccupation.

“We always like to start off each festival with a bang right out of the gate,” Goodwin says. “Haydn’s Creation does just that – it’s an iconic, important, big work. The theme of creation pairs perfectly with the inception of this year’s festival – in the beginning.”

Joseph Haydn lived a long creative life, penning more than 100 symphonies as well as dozens of string quartets, operas, masses and other works.

This prolific contribution to classical music form and structure have earned him the titles “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet.” But the composer himself considered The Creation to be his masterwork.

Although Haydn, an Austrian composer of the Classical period, was a devout Catholic, the tone here is less about the religious cycle of faith and redemption and more about the truly wondrous nature of creation itself. It’s a celebration of the marvelous natural world around us: birdsong, bees, mammals, humans, skies, stars, sunsets, oceans.

Suited to the diverse subject matter, it is a work of contrasting styles and emotions, with sweeping, majestic choruses and brilliant orchestration. The festival’s entire roster of musicians and singers will be in employment here – the festival orchestra, chorale and chorus, fronted by three main vocal soloists.

While it may seem challenging for audiences, it’s a piece that has universal appeal.

“It is complex, but accessible,” Goodwin says. “It is spiritual, but also profoundly down-to-earth and human. I have lived with Haydn’s Creation all my life, first in performances as a boy chorister, then as a solo oboist and now as a conductor, reveling in its ever-changing colors and glorious architecture.

“This piece means a lot to me. I hope it will to you too.”

FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN’S THE CREATION 7:30pm Saturday, July 13 and Saturday, July 20. Sunset Center, San Carlos and Ninth, Carmel. $38-$86. 624-1521, bachfestival.org
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