Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 31, 2013
Happy Easter!

Read below and discover yet another reason to come to Whittier on April 6, 2013!

Reflections about the Whittier College Bach Festival
Stephen Gotbold, Chorale Bel Canto Music Director

The Bach Festival, now it its 76th year, (the oldest continual festival west of the Mississippi) has played a central part in my journey as a student, singer, conductor and teacher. I realized recently in a moment of horror that I have participated and performed in more than half of the 76 festivals - 4 as a student; 7 or 8 as a guest, conducting my high school students in cantatas or motets, or preparing closing chorales for solo cantatas; 27 with the Whittier College Choir and 31 with Chorale Bel Canto, Cantori Sine Nomine, etc.

I attended Whittier College from 1959-1963 as a music major, and in those days, every music major was intensely involved in the Festival - rehearsing, performing, ushering, helping at receptions, etc. It was always a frenetic but wonderful two to three weeks of seemingly round the clock activity. During my years as a student, our concerts were held in Mendenhall Lobby (before those big counters were installed) and at the old Friends Church. Among my many work-study jobs was setting up the 300 chairs in Mendenhall, installing the huge Bach Festival banner which hung between the bank buildings at Philadelphia and Greenleaf, baby-sitting late night rehearsals in the Music Building (now the condemned Guilford Hall) or Mendenhall.

The music of Bach holds a sacred place in the hearts and minds of every musician who reaches out to embrace it. It requires so much of us, but pays amazing dividends of discovery, of inspiration, of almost divine deliverance. The scope of the master's imagination, industry, insight and illumination is simply staggering. Whether a two-part Invention or the towering St. Matthew Passion, there is fulfillment and grace with every note which is mastered.

Central to the "Bach Festival experience" of those days was the involvement of the music faculty - Margaretha Lohmann rehearsing her students at all hours, and herself performing, always from memory, preludes and fugues, suites, concert), transcriptions, all with amazing dexterity, clarity of counterpoint and depth of expression. Ruth Haroldson played, recruited and conducted very capable orchestras, and if my memory serves, none received any compensation.

Then there was Joseph Oi Tullio, cello, playing the unaccompanied suites, providing continue for all sorts of chamber and choral works; and Floyd Stancliff, who taught and played beautifully all of the Bach works for flute. And, of course, Eugene Morrison Riddle diligently prepared the College Choir to sing cantatas and motets for every Bach Festival for over 30 years.

My involvement and dedication to this music has influenced many decisions of my life... I have participated in the Long Beach and Los Angeles Bach Festivals; spent two wonderful summers at the Oregon Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling, after which I spent a year at the Bach Academy in Stuttgart, concertizing and recording with Riding's Gachinger Kantorei. Still today, the Bach Festival at Whittier College is the highlight of my year.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Please read my previous post and follow along for new updates. Linda

Destination . . . Chorale Bel Canto By Linda de Vries

Love Classical Choral Music? Think Chorale Bel Canto.

Seldom or never listen to Classical Choral Music? Think again.

On April 6, think the City of Whittier.

Think Whittier is too far to drive for just a concert? Think again.

The members of Chorale Bel Canto invite you to attend our Bach concert on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. in the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, the major presentation of the 76-year-old Whittier College Bach Festival.

“Destination . . . Chorale Bel Canto” will appear several times before each of our concerts. It will focus on the California community in which we are performing and the myriad reasons to visit each city and its environs, with a Chorale Bel Canto concert at the center of your experience.
We hope one of the day-trips described below will draw you to our concert and excite your life!

Trip One – Presidential History

10:00 a.m.
Begin your day at the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in nearby Yorba Linda, where Nixon was born. It is located at 18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard, Yorba Linda, (714) 993-3393). It opens at 10:00 a.m., and admission ranges from $4.75--$11.95, children under six free.

Whatever your politics, experiencing the history surrounding our 37th president will stun you. A trip to the Nixon Library is particularly significant now--2013 is the 100th anniversary of his birth.

12:00 noon
The Library has a small snack bar. For a more complete meal, Mimi’s Cafe and Polly’s Pies are nearby. Or, you can drive to Whittier and lunch at one of the restaurants owned and operated by more recent Whittier College alums:

Phlight Restaurant and Wine Bar at 6724 Bright Avenue, operated by Jay and Nikomi Arroyo, serving Spanish tapas and boutique wine and beer; open for lunch from 11:30-2:30 and dinner 5:00-11:00 on Saturdays (562-789-0578). Reservations recommended for Fridays, Saturdays, and for large parties.

Setá Restaurant and Bar at 13033 Philadelphia Street, with chef Hugo Molina’s fine dining, is open for lunch and dinner, (562-698-3355).

Or, picnic in one of Whittier’s lovely parks, possibly Penn Park at 13950 Penn Street, Palm Park at 5703 Palm Avenue, or Central Park at 6532 Friends Avenue.

1:00 p.m.
If you haven’t already done so, drive the scenic route from Yorba Linda to Whittier, where Nixon lived, attended high school and college, and joined his first law firm. As you drive along Whittier, you will pass the locations where brother Don Nixon’s restaurants once stood, notably the Nixon Drive-In, Whittier’s teen hangout in the 1950s.

2:00 p.m.
Appropriately, a great deal of Nixon history can be found on Washington Avenue, named after Whittier’s first bank president, Washington Hadley. You may wish to stop and walk about any of the following sites, or call in advance to inquire about tours.

Turn right from Whittier Boulevard. At the corner of Penn and Washington is the building housing the law firm of Bewley, Lassleben and Miller, the descendent of Nixon’s first law firm, Wingert and Bewley. The original firm was located on the 6th floor of the Bank of America building on the nearby corner of Greenleaf and Philadelphia.

Further along Washington at 7630 you will pass the Whittier Center Theatre, home of the Whittier Community Theatre. Though not in this building, Richard and Thelma Catherine Ryan (Pat) Nixon first met in 1938 when both auditioned for the Whittier Community Players production of The Dark Tower.

At the corner of Washington and Philadelphia you will pass First Friends Church and School. Nixon’s mother, Hannah, was a devout Quaker who instilled the faith in her husband and children. Whittier is named after the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

As you continue, you will pass Central Park on your right, with a Gazebo bandstand used summer concerts. On the southeast corner, sits a larger-than-life-size statue of the poet.

If you turn left on Philadelphia you will pass on your right Whittier High School, which Nixon attended for his Junior and Senior years. If, instead, you continue across Hadley and turn right on Camilla, you will encounter more of Whittier’s Quaker history—the Jonathan Bailey House at 13421 E. Camilla Street, (562-945-3871). It is open for tours Sundays 1-4 p.m.

This was originally the Thomas Ranch House, built in 1860. In 1887 Aquilla Pickering, a Chicago Quaker and financier, held the first meeting of the Pickering Land and Water Company in a barn behind this house and Jonathan Bailey was elected president. He and his wife moved into the house on May 15, 1887.

Continue up Camilla and the street ends in the Lou Henry Hoover Elementary School at 6302 Alta Avenue. Here you encounter another US President, Herbert Hoover, our 31st president. The school, named after his wife, was designed by William Harrison in the Art Moderne style, built by the WPA, and completed in 1938. The facade of the building presents an elaborately sculpted frieze depicting early Quakers and the founding of Whittier, with a quotation from Alexander von Humboldt: “What you would want in the life of a nation you must first put into its schools.”

Mrs. Hoover holds many honorary degrees, including one from Whittier College, where she also served on the Board of Trustees and first met the young attorney, Richard Nixon.

Go back down Camilla to Painter Avenue and turn left. At the corner of Painter and Philadelphia you will arrive at Whittier College, Nixon’s alma mater. On this corner stands the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts. Although the future president performed in dramatic productions while a student, it was not on this site, but in the auditorium in Founders’ Hall, which burned to the ground in 1966.

4:00 p.m.
Here in the Shannon Center Chorale Bel Canto will perform the Latin Magnificat in D Major and Cantata 10, the lesser-known “German Magnificat.” The Chorale’s renowned music director, Dr. Stephen Gothold, will conduct an in-concert guided tour through Cantata 10, using the choir in live exemplar selections—a real treat for music history fans.

Find more information on all the activities of the 76th Annual Whittier College Bach Festival at

6:00 p.m.
To complete your day in Whittier we suggest dinner at either Phlight or Setá, described for lunch, or at Vintage Cafe at 6741 Bright Avenue, serving French inspired contemporary cuisine with a full bar. Open Saturdays 5:00-9:00 p.m., (562-696-5050).

Trip Two—Mexican California

10:00 a.m.
Begin your day at San Gabriel Arcángel Mission, 428 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel 91776. (626-282-5308). Founded September 8, 1771 by Spaniards of the Franciscan order, this mission is still a fully functioning parish church. Father Antonio Cruzado designed the mission, its Moorish architecture reflecting his home in Córdoba, Spain,

12:00 noon
There are many places to lunch around the mission, and you might consider spending more of your early afternoon here—there is so much to see.

If you’re hungry, you might head to Whittier for a great Mexican meal at El Buen Gusto, 10820 Beverly Boulevard, (562-692-4448), a proud supporter of Chorale Bel Canto.

Or, you might want to lunch later and visit the Juan Matias Sanchez Adobe Historical Site built in 1844 on Rancho La Merced, at 945 N. Adobe, in the city of Montebello. This site is also associated with other famous early Californians--William Workman, Francisco P. Temple, and Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin. The Sanchez Adobe is open Saturday afternoons. For exact hours, contact

2:00 p.m.
Take a late lunch now, or, if you lunched at noon, think about continuing your Early California experience with a visit to the Pio Pico State Park, 6003 Pioneer Boulevard, (562-695-1217), open Saturday and Sunday 9:30-4:00. (

The Pio Pico Mansion, known as “El Ranchito,” is the former residence of the last Mexican Governor of California, Pio Pico, and one of southern California’s few remaining 19th century structures built of the large sun-dried mud bricks called adobe.

4:00 p.m.
Return along Whittier Boulevard to the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, where Chorale Bel Canto will perform. (See above)

6:00 p.m.
If you lunched elsewhere, return to El Buen Gusto for dinner. Or, you might want to drive east on Whittier Boulevard to El Cholo Spanish Cafe, a landmark in neighboring La Habra for decades.

8:00 p.m.
If you want to skip dinner, or grab a quick bite, you may wish to attend the newly revised Mission Play at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626-308-2868)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013