Friday night at 7:30 the audience was seated in the Gambrel Barn in Elora. Onstage were the Elora Festival Orchestra, Elora Festival Singers, the VOCES8 choir, and Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal. Noel Edison was at his podium, his back to the audience, arms at his sides. There was an almost-overlong pause, maybe a minute of dead silence. Then Edison raised his arms and the choir and orchestra opened up at full volume. It was like a knife edge between silence and music. If beauty can be shocking then that's what it was. It was so beautiful I cried.
Bach doesn't do filler. It started and then it just carried on as this breathtakingly beautiful experience. I wish the soloists hadn't walked out to the front from their places in the choir because it broke my concentration a little, but I suppose the musicians needed to catch their breath.
The Elora Festival Singers are better than ever this year. There are such distinctive, beautiful voices, and Edison has made use of them in many solos during the festival. VOCES8 added three countertenors to the choir for the B Minor Mass, and Edison created moments when their sound was able to shine through.
It's a tragedy that the barn was only two-thirds full. This was the greatest musical event of the summer in southern Ontario and seats were just $45. The production wasn't promoted or reviewed by local or Toronto media, as far as I can tell.