Welcome to St. Paul’s Concert Series, providing world-class performances at a donation-based family-friendly admission price. Please scroll below to see our next scheduled performance, register to attend, and make a donation if you wish.
Current COVID-19 conditions prohibit in-person gathering, which is why, in the best interest of our guest’s health and safety, we are only offering online attendance for this concert. To reserve your virtual seat, please register HERE. You will receive an email with your registration confirmation, and the link to the live broadcast of the performance.
After the performance, our performer(s) will engage with our audience through comments submitted online.
To view or print the concert program for Arthur Omura on January 29, click HERE.
Donations are optional but gratefully accepted. Average donations for attendees are $20 (adult) or $10 (student). Regardless of donation, all are welcome! We greatly appreciate your support of our artists and our concert program. Please share your support by making a donation HERE.
About This Performance
The Duels ………………..
In 1710, Georg Frideric Handel was riding high. He was in Rome, having left Hamburg after a quarrel with his old best friend Johann Mattheson (in which Handel was nearly stabbed) and was making a grand tour around the Italian states. His new best friend was a man his age(25) named Domenico Scarlatti, the son of one of Handel’s patrons, Alessandro Scarlatti. It was Domenico who famously remarked, upon hearing Handel play the harpsichord at a masquerade ball: “It is either the Dear Saxon (Il caro Sassone), or the Devil!” The two were so compatible and so remarkably talented that Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, another of Handel’s patrons, arranged for an informal musical competition between the two, for the enjoyment of Roman high society, and to see who was the better player. Sadly there was no clear winner; Scarlatti was thought to be a better harpsichordist, but Il Sassone far surpassed him on the organ.
In 1717 Louis Marchand was on the skids. He was one of the King’s organists, an organiste du Roi, and a prodigious talent on the harpsichord. But he had a temper, and a mouth to match. He had a messy divorce from his wife more than ten years earlier, and had possibly insulted King Louis – not usually something you bounced back from. As a result of all this, he was on a three-year sabbatical in the German states, perhaps looking for a new job far away from Versailles. As it happened, the Elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, was looking for a new court organist. The only catch was that he had to win a competition with a local keyboardist also interested in the job: Johann Sebastian Bach. This duel never happened, though. Marchand escaped Dresden the night before, perhaps realizing the strong headwinds he would face. Neither he nor Bach ever worked for the Elector; Marchand would return to France and continue being a hot-head, and Bach would become the Kapellmeister of Leipzig. Later, Bach biographers reported that he was familiar with Marchand’s keyboard music, and would play it “in his own manner; that is, very lightly and with much art”.
About Our Performer
Arthur Omura is a specialist in historical keyboard instruments based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied with Charles Rus in San Francisco, and with Dr. Lucinda Carver at the University of Southern California. He has performed at the Boston and Berkeley Early Music festivals and given numerous performances in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. He has worked with MicroFest, wildUp, iPalpiti, Les Surprises Baroques, Musica Angelica, and the American Bach Soloists. Omura has collaborated on several recordings, most recently on Kontrapunktus, a collection of new music by composer Mark Moya written in a Baroque idiom.
Arthur’s interest in instrument making and organology led him to work with harpsichord builder Curtis Berak, whom he has assisted in restoring several instruments, and with organ builder Manuel Rosales. He is currently the director of music at Grace Episcopal Church in Martinez, California.
About the St. Paul’s Concert Series
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is pleased to bring this year-round concert series at an affordable, donation-based cost. Concerts are performed in the beautiful St. Paul’s sanctuary near downtown Walnut Creek and are also streamed live. Our concert series presents in-person* world-class performances in an intimate setting along with free parking and convenient nearby access to Walnut Creek BART. Or, if you choose to enjoy our performances from the comfort of your own home, join us online on YouTube!
*When in-person concerts resumes, masks will be required as well as proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken in the last three days.
Or call (925) 297-0134. To make a donation to St. Paul’s using PayPal or a credit card, use this link.
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