Simon Preston | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Simon Preston

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Organist Simon Preston's visit to Northwestern University last year was such a smash they ivited him back for lengthier stay. This time around, the distinguished and much recorded British musician will offer two concerts during his two-month residency, each highlighting an aspect of his artistry. For the first, a pair of important theatrcial works from late-17th-century-England--the local premiere of John Blow's Venus and Adonis, commonly acknowledged as the first English opera, and a welcome revival of the semi-opera King Arthur by Henry Purcell, who was Blow's prize student--will be performed by the highly regarded His Majestie's Clerkes and Orpheus Band (collaborating for the first time) under Preston's direction. Venus and Adonis, Blow's only work for the stage, owes a great deal to the tradition of masque, a popular form of musical entertainment during Elizabethan time. The concert is also noteworthy for its unintended sense of historical continuity: Purcell succeeded Blow as Westminster Abbey's organist, a position now occupied by Preston. Sopranos Patrice Michael Bedi and Christine Brandes and bass-baritone James Weaver--all singers with uncommon dramatic flair--are featured. Sunday, 7:30 PM; Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 Sheridan, Evanston; 708-491-5441.

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