We can start to envision a world where ancient music from opposite sides of the globe co-exists on a program, creating and exploring a new definition for historically informed performances. Allowing ourselves to explore different aural palettes enriches us. When we learn about and understand different cultures with open hearts and minds, we begin to appreciate one another.
This week, Seattle-based Pacific MusicWorks, for their upcoming season finale (May 20 and 21), will give the world premiere of a new musical completion of the finale scene that appeared at the end of the originally published libretto for Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. Combining sung and danced performance, this alternate ending is the work of Stephen Stubbs, the lutenist, conductor, and the founder and artistic director of Pacific MusicWorks, with choreography by Baroque dance specialist Anna Mansbridge.
Sopranos Maya Kherani and Sherezade Panthaki (at right) and tenor Asitha Tennekoon are among a growing number of South Asian musicians working to promote more diversity in early-music casting and programming while building their own impressive careers. “I knew what it was like to not have role models," says Kherani. "I thought if I could change that for one young person by being proud and open about my heritage, I should do it.”
The only known extant works for viola da gamba in British Colonial America are found in the James River Music Book, a manuscript that has resided in Virginia since the 1730s and contains 15 works for solo viola da gamba, among other musical items. The earliest layer of the JRMB holds music by Lully, Purcell, and Handel, nearly doubling the page count of surviving instrumental music from the period and contributing repertoire for viola da gamba, organ, harpsichord, violin, and voice to the music now known to have been played in colonial Virginia. This article was first published in the May 2020 issue of EMAg.
Inspired by the woman who remains an icon and a cautionary tale over 200 years after her death, Opera Lafayette's 'The Era of Marie Antoinette Rediscovered' will shed light on the French queen's extraordinary education in music and dance, her early embrace of opéra comique, and her legacy as a champion of modern composers in pre-Revolutionary France. But the series goes further, exploring 'progressive' philosophies that were in direct opposition to the atrocities being committed against enslaved people on sugar, coffee, and tobacco plantations in the Caribbean, the source of much of France's wealth.
Alabama folk musician Bobby Horton takes a historically informed approach to folk music from many American genres. He's worked closely with popular documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 'The Civil War,' 'Baseball' and other PBS programs bear Horton’s mark as a performer, collector, composer, and adviser. His contributions to more than 20 National Park Service films reflect his intense interest in conservation and centuries past. Horton is on the soundtrack for Ken Burns' latest project, 'Benjamin Franklin,' which airs on PBS starting April 4.
To inaugurate the HBCU Early Music Initiative Project, two of Early Music America's IDEA Taskforce members, harpsichordist Joyce Chen and viola da gambist Patricia Ann Neely, gave an engaging demonstration on baroque performance practice at Delaware State University. This outreach event was presented to a diverse group of student and community members, including non-majors taking intro to music courses and music majors who are planning on pursuing graduate degrees.
Celebrating International Women's Day: The careers of Viennese composer Marianna Martines and Roman composer Maria Rosa Coccia mirrored one another in key respects. But the differences are fascinating, and revealing: While one was born into privilege and carefully cultivated her public image, the other seemed to suffer from fewer social connections and a more bold approach to her public persona.
As a society, we are finally having conversations that aim to upend systemic injustice. But there's been curiously little discussion about the ancient hatred of antisemitism, which has seen a resurgence across the political spectrum. Even as American Jewish institutions have come under fatal attack, this conversation has taken a backseat in the early-music community.
The small, almost-forgotten pipe organ called an Organetto is the star of this week's Newberry Consort's "Music Fit for the Medicis." The organetto was typically played perpendicularly on a performer’s lap and was one of the most popular instruments in the 13th and the 14th centuries. None survive. What experts know today about the organetto comes from its depiction in hundreds of medieval paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and stained-glass windows.
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