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Nuria Rial

Today is an exciting day for me, because I get to see and hear Nuria Rial sing live for the first time in my life, performing a piece I have very fond childhood memories of. I also get to hug my sister for the first time in more than two years, and I get to explore the gorgeous city of Basel. It is a special week for my sister and me, since this coming Friday is the 11th anniversary of our mother’s death.

To remember our late mother and her love of music, every year my sister and I have tried to go to a concert together. Because I used to live in California and my sister lives in France, and we both have kids, it would not work out every year, but we’ve had some memorable experiences. In March 2013 we attended Bach’s St. Matthew Passion by Herreweghe in Cuenca, Spain, during Holy Week, which in Spain comes with processions in the streets. In November 2015 we went to Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers by Savall in the then brand-new Philharmonie de Paris, only a few days after the terrorist attacks. The last time we went to a concert together was in January 2018.

When the J.S. Bach Foundation announced their 15th anniversary concerts with Nuria Rial in Cantata 202, my choice for this year was made. I’m so grateful this is all working out and I am so excited I already woke up at 5 am this morning, as if I’m an elementary school kid, going on a field trip.

About that elementary school kid. One of my strongest childhood memories is of the time my sister and I accompanied my mother when she had to go sing at a wedding. It must have been late 1970s/early 1980s. The couple were both elementary school teachers, so they got married on a Wednesday afternoon, to make it possible for their students to attend their wedding as well. I remember absolutely nothing about all the other kids that must have been there that day. I only remember waiting for the bus, sitting on the floor of the organ loft, and hearing the music. Read more in this in this post, where you can also hear an example of the piece my mother sang that afternoon: the “Gavotte” from Cantata 202.

I have always wanted to visit Basel. It’s the place of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where so many of the Baroque musicians I admire received their training. But I also heard many stories about all the great art museums, the historic city, and how beautifully it is situated on the Rhine. When we returned from our trip to Italy in 2018, we had a wonderful stop-over with a dear friend near Basel, but all we got to see of the city were the two railway stations.

I first heard Nuria Rial sing on the German radio station WDR3, exactly one month after my mother passed away in 2010. I was staying at my parents’ house in the Netherlands with my kids. My mother had always preferred the German classical music station over the Dutch one, especially for their Early music programming, so WDR3 was pre-programmed into my parents’ fancy equipment. I heard Nuria Rial sing and she literally took my breath away. After it was over I went on Facebook and told all my singer friends (that’s why I still know what day it was). To get an idea, watch her live recording of the soprano aria from Cantata 36 with the J.S. Bach Foundation. I know I already said it, but tonight is the first time I’m going to hear and see her live.

It will also be the first time I’m going to see the J.S. Bach Foundation (Bachstiftung) perform live, after having been a fan of theirs for several years now, and having shared many of their videos on my blog. Read my last post about them (and another favorite soprano) here. I feel honored I get to celebrate their 15th Anniversary with them tonight.

There really is nothing like a live performance. But if you can’t make it to Switzerland this week, you can still watch this same concert 🙂 Tomorrow, Wednesday November 17, this same program will be live-streamed from Trogen, Switzerland, at 7 pm Central European Time, which is 10 am Pacific Time, 1 pm Eastern Time, or 6 pm in the UK. For more information on the live-stream, and to download the program booklet, click here. Direct links to the live stream are here, or on the YouTube channel of the J.S. Bach Foundation.

Wieneke Gorter, November 16, 2021.