Bridget Kibbey and Friends at Merkin Hall

WQXR's Terrance McKnight Hosts

By: - Mar 07, 2019


Bridget Kibbey is a superb musician on her instrument of choice, the harp.  She was joined by two friends on violin and flute/recorder to perform J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Orlando de Lassus and Tarquinio Merula  in Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center in New York. The event was hosted by Terrance McKnight of WQXR.

J.S. Bach transcribed music he composed for one instrument to played on another.  This is a bottom line justification for transcription of his work.  Kibbey’s understanding of Bach’s essence in counterpoint and also melodic line more than rewards the effort to transcribe following the two prime injunctives: to honor the composer’s work and bring more to it through a different sounding board.  In this case, of course, the usual sounding board and pipes of the organ are not deployed. 

While the organ is driven by the different ranks of pipes and air pressure, and the other familiar Bach performance instrument, the harpsichord, has strings plucked by plectrums.  The harp treats us to the interface of the fingers of the hand on strings.  This is an intimate gesture, heightened in Kibbey’s performance by her sleeves which were the only part of her dress glistening with sequins.  As her arms moved to address the strings and bring forth her instruments lovely sounds, some beautiful and others crisp and surprisingly abrupt, we were dazzled by the song quality and by the accompanying glitter. Watching and listening to Kibbey is fun. 

Kibbey’s musical lines are particularly lovely, resonating as the harp characteristically does, into the air of the hall and hanging there as the other counterpuntal lines continue. They add to our appreciation of Bach and the other performers she engaged, de Lassus, C.P. E. Bach and Merula. 

Priscilla Herreid on flute and recorder added beautiful, clear lines to Bach, de Lassus and Merula when she joined Kibbey as a duo or trio, with Beth Wenstrom on violin.  Wenstrom was both frisky and elegant on the violin. 

Watching these women perform, it is an added joy to look at their long grape-wine dresses swirling with the notes they play. 

Terrance McKnight sat twice with the women to discuss their work and helpfully elucidate it for us.  This is part of a fascinating series at Merkin entitled Only at Merkin with Terrance McKnight.