Here I am in Carmel, attending the first day of the Carmel Bach Festival. The rest of the festival has an amazing standard to live up to. My first concert was the St. John Passion by J. S. Bach. They semi-staged it: everyone in street clothes incuding the instrumentalists, soloists walking on and off stage at random, Jesus wearing a brown t-shirt and running shoes. The choir was fabulous - strong, tight, together, even on those impossible sixteenth-note runs. (The small orchestra was also excellent, but as a singer I always pay attention to the chorus.) It took me awhile to realize there was a second choir (the youth chorus) behind me and overhead, in the choir loft! The Sunset Center has wonderful acoustics.
The soloists were outstanding - all of them sang from memory, even Rufus Muller as the Evangelist, who sings practically the entire time (fabulous tenor voice and impeccable German diction). The conductor wore jeans and a work shirt and conducted with his entire body, not using a baton. The entire performance was electric - passionate and taut. By the time the Crucifixion came along the audience was right there in it.
Rather than invent more adjectives I'll just say it was one of the few concerts I've attended where the standing ovation was unanimous, began within 15 seconds of the end of the concert, and lasted for 3 curtain calls. They'll have trouble living up to that standard.