Carmel Impresarios

I have read through a book titled as Carmel Impresarios. There has been  Bach Music Festival held in Carmel every summer, the famous resort near San Franscisco, since 1935. Founded by two ladies, it had been continued there from the beginning through 1950s except for a few years in WWII. Since the ladies have passed away, it has been held by the musicians involved and the volunteers in the area. A good friend of mine, Bob Warmke, W6CYX, has introduced this festival several years ago and this book to me last year.


Though I have written about this story elsewhere and just in the last post in this blog , let me do that again in relation to this book. I used to attend a concert of Matthew's Passion in Tokyo in my med student days of '70s. It was performed by Stuttgart Bach Ensemble conducted by Helmut Rilling. having finished the laboratory study of anatomy at the school, I hurried to the concert hall. In my early twenties, I have had a few serious troubles in my mind. Family issues, breaking heart with a girl friend and distrust in own saving in Christianity. It was the days of crisis in my youth.

It was a real catharsis for me, even if it was not an eternal saving. I was overwhelmed by their performance. What a warm hearted performance they have done for the audience! The baritone singing Jesus, I can't remeber his name, was really impressive. The name of Rilling has also been in my memory as a great conductor since this experience.

In a QSO with Bob some ten years ago, I have mentioned of this memory to him. Surprisingly, he told me he had listened to Rilling taking the baton to the ensemble and choir at Carmel some time ago. He has told me what a person Rilling looked like. Taking some wine, Rilling looked cheerful and talkative to the people around him, so far as I remember what Bob told me in the QSO. Regular attendees to the festival concerts like Bob seemed to have had a priviledge to be company for the dinner with the performers. I have enjoyed listening to his story. I felt this conversation had made us even closer.

This book relates the history of Carmel, the ancestors of the two founders of the festival, the founder ladies themselves and the festival itself. The author, D J Gordon, a tenor singer, started it describing about his drive down from San Franscico to Carmel on the route 101, which had been very familiar to me. It was that way which I had driven to see Merle K6DC in Santa Barbara for a couple of times in '80s and '90s. Gordon was going to have an audition for the Bach Festival in Carmel. The description was good enough to attract me into the story.

I am feeling really touched by the two founder ladies with such an high ambition and tireless energy to establish a music society. I guess, in the US at that time in early 20th century, it must have been a common sense in the society that women should stay at home occupied in homework and raising children in family. Beyond such a common sense, I believe, the ladies have gone through for what they thought worthwhile. It was to have music taken root in the area together with the people.

The society in the US must have had much energy and capability to accept and support such an activity these ladies did. It might be partly originated in the pioneer spirit in 19th century. In the years of Great Depression, as the author tells, the project named FMP, Federal Music Project, has been made and carried out by President Roosevelt. It was to save the musicians those days. In this project, there have been a number of orchestras founded, some of which have grown as major orchestras now. It might be a part of the New Deal but still reflected the people's interest and support toward such cultural activities as classical music. Without the approval for such a policy by the people, it could never be realized. It was also impressive to me that people in Carmel had enjoyed each rehearsal of the local orchestra organized for the festival. It might be a handy chance for them to enjoy music. It still reflects how they have supported the music activity.

In the epilogue, the author stressed that the festival has been carried out because it has been together with the people there. It looks like a simple insight but still quite an appropriate word to have understood the essence of the history. Someday, I would visit this festival togethr with Bob and his wife Mariko.


  1. Thank You Shin! A beautiful write-up!

    1. I thank you, too. Go on attending to Carmel Bach Festival.