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Type of Organization
With a name inspired by the Italian word Seicento which means “six hundred” and refers to the culturally rich 1600s in Italy, the Seicento Baroque Ensemble was founded in 2011 to fill a void in the Colorado choral scene by performing worthy but rarely-heard music of the early baroque musical period. The group is an auditioned chamber choir which uses historically-informed performance practices and period instruments.
Seicento Baroque Ensemble’s concerts are performed with vocal soloists as well as baroque strings, violas da gamba, harpsichord, recorders, sackbuts, baroque flute and oboe, all who specialize in historic performance. Seicento’s concerts and pre-concert talks offer a more in-depth look at the highlighted composers and instruments and incorporate creative connections such as baroque artwork and history. Of special note have been their concerts of music from the Kremsier Archives (Czech Republic); a concert for voices and viols; and a concert of music by Henry Purcell woven to tell a historical fiction about the great comet of 1680, narrated by Charley Samson of Colorado Public Radio; the psalm settings of Italian Jewish composer Salamone Rossi in Hebrew and sacred music from Croatia (“Praise & Lamentation,” fall 2019); and a concert of secular French Baroque opera, songs, and cantatas with French Baroque dancer Elena Mullins (“Airs & Graces,” spring 2020).
For its 10th anniversary season, in November of 2021, Seicento presented An Italian Intermezzo: musical interludes selected from La Pellegrina of 1589. The intermedi were part of a larger celebration for the wedding of Ferdinando de’ Medici and Christine de Lorraine. Ferdinando had become duke of Tuscany in 1587, and the marriage, to the niece of King Henri III of France, was meant to solidify his power and strengthen international ties.
Seicento’s current Artistic Director, English soprano Amanda Balestrieri, has a long history with the ensemble, having performed as soprano soloist with the group since it was founded by Evanne Browne in 2011. Balestrieri has an illustrious background in mainstream and early music performance and has appeared nationally with the leading early music ensembles in chamber music and opera. She holds a BA and MA from Oxford University in England, specializes in languages, and was a pianist and violinist before she pursued her singing career. She was appointed Artistic Director of Seicento Baroque Ensemble in May 2018 and has continued the mission of presenting spectacular but underperformed repertoire of the Baroque era.
Seicento is Ensemble in Residence at First United Methodist Church, Boulder, Colorado.