Burning River Baroque Examines Reactions to Unconventional Women in “Witches: Revered and Reviled”

Burning River Baroque continues their 8th season with a series of thought-provoking performances crafted to connect baroque music to present-day issues of othering, bullying, and stigmatization. “Witches: Revered & Reviled” delves into early modern society’s desire for an ordered society, a trend that frequently led to the persecution of individuals accused of straying outside the established conventional boundaries. In particular, the program focuses on the criminalization of women who were labelled as not fitting into social norms. 

Ironically, while women ascribed with supernatural abilities were often severely outcasted, punished, and even brutally executed, they could also be viewed as powerful and revered resources to help those who suffered from mental and spiritual maladies. Thus, the program looks closely at reverence, as well as repulsion, through the stories of Circe, the Witch of Endor, and the Furies in a broad range of national styles and traditions of the 17th century.

Audience members will also experience the premiere of a newly-commissioned work by Alexis Bacon, which portrays the story of Mary Todd Lincoln and her spiritualist medium Margaretta Fox. Co-directors Malina Rauschenfels (soprano) and Paula Maust (harpsichord) will be joined by guest artists Kristine Caswelch (soprano); William Marshall (baritone); Sarah Elizabeth Cranor (violin); Stephanie Zimmerman, (violin); and Jamie Gallupe, (cello). 

Their week-long series begins with outreach workshops and performances at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and at Bard High School Early College, generously supported by an EMA Engagement Award. “Witches: Revered & Reviled” runs from March 18 through 22, with public venues that include downtown Cleveland, Youngstown, Lorain, and Cleveland Heights, OH. All public performances have a $10 to $20 suggested donation. 

Founded in 2012, Burning River Baroque has been praised by the Boston Music Intelligencer as “a group that left an indelible print on my psyche.” Audience members report that they appreciate the opportunity to experience the marriage of critical thought and musical performance in a welcome and engaging atmosphere. One attendee described the experience as “not classical music as a privileged escape from reality, but classical music as a way to engage with and reframe current reality.”

Visit www.burning-river-baroque.org to learn more.

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