Type of Organization
Guts creates welcoming, powerful, un-stuffy experiences of baroque music played on period instruments, bringing you up close and personal with the music and the juicy stories of the composers and performers behind it. We breathe life into beautiful and unusual music that we love, bringing it from the 17th and 18th centuries to your ears. Come experience the warmth and immediacy of historically-informed chamber music!
Born of a chance meeting in a graduate program ensemble, Guts Baroque blossomed in 2019 and became the primary performance project of Sylvia Schwartz, baroque violinist, and John Ott, viola da gambist, baroque cellist, and scholar. With the good fortune of locking down together in March 2020, Guts was one of the first American early music ensembles to launch a livestream concert series. They continued livestreaming most months since, through the spring of 2022, building a loyal community of patrons and amassing a sizable repertoire that they look forward to releasing as albums and performing in person.
With the return to live performance in 2021, Guts was featured together and individually in the Portland Bach Experience, an award-winning festival in Portland, ME directed by Maine Artist of the Year, Dr. Emily Isaacson. Guts appeared in several chamber concerts, and served as principal cellist and concertmaster in the festival orchestra. They returned to Portland Bach Experience 2022, featured in salon performances of an amazing program “Back to Bach” curated and performed by baroque and jazz violinist Julia McKenzie, tracing the influences of Bach, Marais, Rameau, and other Baroque composers on the likes of Dave Brubeck, John Williams, the Beatles, Paul Simon, and others.
Benefiting from co-founder John Ott’s resesarch and meticulous preparation of performing editions from original editions and manuscripts, Guts builds engaging, thematic programs digging into a particular moment in history or a literary inspiration. Ott brings the audience close to the music with his approachable storytelling from the stage, shining light on the personalities as well as the music itself. The pair’s performances bring all the vibrance of a deep belief in the power of music to heal and nourish those who listen and play, a shared understanding of baroque dance and gesture, and a singular “togetherness” that their audiences often remark upon.
Our members maintain active teaching studios, including aspects of historical performance practice seamlessly in their teaching and sharing their love of baroque music performance.
Guts has performed in churches and breweries, from Southern California to Maine, in Groupmuses and their own livestream series, and opened the 2021 Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Festival with their performance of “Rising from the Ashes of Plague: Music for Violin & Basso from 17th-Century Italy”. Currently based in Portland, Maine, Guts is eager to bring the full, in-person experience of their music back to people across New England and beyond, and to continue growing their online musicmaking that has allowed them to bring people together from around the world.
In the spring of 2023, with co-founder John Ott returning to his native California, Guts welcomed cellist-gambist Rebecca Shaw to be our primary bowed bassist for New England area concerts. We are thrilled to have her join us and look forward to a resurgence of Guts activity in the coming months. Stay tuned!
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