“Women musicians were not recognized as professionals, despite their education and capabilities surpassing many of their male colleagues, brothers, and husbands”
– Sallynee Amawat
Leaf Music and award-winning ensemble Infusion Baroque present Virtuosa. Recorded at Église St-Agustin in Mirabel and Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique de Montreal in Quebec, Virtuosa is the ensemble’s first collaboration with JUNO-award winning producer Martha de Francisco. Virtuosa offers 14 pieces and almost two hours of music spanning 400 years. The album features Alexa Raine-Wright on flute, Sallynee Amawat on violin, Rona Nadler on harpsichord, and Andrea Stewart on cello and viola de gamba, with guest performances by soprano Ariadne Lih, Sari Tsuji on violin, and Gili Loftus on fortepiano. The group is celebrating the release of Virtuosa with a performance at the Montreal Baroque Festival on June 23, the eve before Virtuosa’s release.
An in-depth booklet and companion website display stories and artwork surrounding the women featured on the recording. The goal of the Virtuosa Project is to provide cultural and socio-economic context for the women’s lives, the music they wrote, and to highlight their accomplishments in a time saturated with adversity. As the members of Infusion Baroque delved deeper into the stories of the composers, they began to form a shared admiration for the depth of perseverance and passion they encountered.
Virtuosa is the culmination of many shared frustrations and conversations between the members of Infusion Baroque. “One of the most poignant thoughts brought about by Infusion Baroque’s Virtuosa Project exploration is that, had I been born during the time that the music on this album was composed, I would not have been allowed to play the flute”, says flutist Alexa Raine-Wright.
Underneath the Virtuosa Project umbrella is a web series dedicated to four women across the 18th and 19th centuries: Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia, Lise Cristiani, Teresa Milanollo, and Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre. Each composer is profiled in a mini-documentary, and accompanied by a companion video in which a piece written by or composed for the featured musician is performed. Each of the women featured is recognized as a pioneer in their field. There are also four pieces from four different male composers on the album, all of whom have in some way contributed to or supported the cause of women musicians during their time.
Infusion Baroque draws new audiences to early music through a captivating concert experience, effortlessly connecting seasoned musicianship with theatrical flair. Playing music of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on historical instruments, the four women of Infusion Baroque enthrall audiences across North America with their creative and interactive programming.
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