Thursday, January 15, 2004
The listener will have a hard time escaping the spell of Bruce Dean's cello, but will-power will be rewarded for those who can pull their ears away to listen to the voices at Sunday night's Coffee Cantata.
The cantata, written by J.S. Bach, tells the funny story of a girl addicted to coffee and her father's struggle to keep her from the bean.
History books tell us of leaders and wars, but the preserved work of artists and musicians fills in the details about daily life. How else would we remember 18th century Germany as Bach saw it? The cities were full of coffee houses and a new addiction to the drink, but conservatives were suspicious of coffee and preached about its dangers.
"This cantata is deliberately funny," vocalist Kathleen Allen said. "It's a battle of the generations and in this one, the younger generation wins."
The daughter professes that she must drink coffee all day. Her father threatens to take away her friends and her shopping privileges, but she doesn't budge. She only appears convinced when her father threatens not to find her a husband.
"The music is the usual elegant, precise construction that you would expect from Bach," Allen said. "But the words are ludicrous."
In the end, the daughter tricks everyone with a prenuptial agreement allowing her all the coffee she wants.
"I thought this would be a good piece for Steamboat audiences," Allen said. "For a small town, we sure have a lot of coffee."
After deciding she wanted to perform the Coffee Cantata in Steamboat, Allen looked around the town's musical landscapes for voices to fill the roles.
She called Dr. Robert Ritschel to play the father and Father David Henderson from St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
For instruments, she called flutist Cindy Maddox and Steamboat Springs Piano Trio members Cristel Houston, Teresa Steffen Greenlee and Bruce Dean.
"Cindy doesn't get to be showcased enough except at church. We've done work together before and, in addition to being accomplished, she's very sensitive. She's very good at following you -- speeding up or slowing down. She follows you, not a metronome," Allen said. "I chose (Robert) because he is a very accomplished singer, but most everyone knows him as a conductor."
With the Piano Trio on board, Allen added two classical pieces, one by Antonio Vivaldi and another by Bedrich Smetana, for that group to perform.
"I like a mixed program," Allen said. "And if you haven't seen (the Piano Trio) in the last year, they have taken a quantum leap. They are really gelling as a group. And Bruce got a new cello that sounds like God or at least like one of the angels."
The evening is sponsored by Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the concert will be followed by a coffee reception.