Join us for our second annual community sing of parts 2 & 3 of Handel’s Messiah. Two rehearsals take place before the performance which must be attended if you want to participate. The performance is open to anyone who would like to attend. Performance date and time are listed here; please visit our website for more details.
Tag Archives | baroque music
Fifth in our series of guest articles for Early Music Month
by Augusta McKay Lodge
It’s not every day a recent music graduate is invited to be a part of a European tour with one of the world’s top baroque orchestras, Les Arts Florissants. Yet this was exactly the situation in which I found myself upon completion of my studies at Juilliard where I first met Maestro William Christie, orchestra founder and director. Had I imagined such a thing happening, I would’ve cracked the books on my French sooner!
While students, we had thrived off of Mr. Christie’s indefatigable energy, his intense and vivid musicality, and his tough but benevolent expectations. The inspiration and joy of performing with such a renowned musician while sitting as concertmistress and soloist in his Juilliard415 concert will always stand out in my memory.
So I was a bit nervous and unsure what to expect as fellow classmate, Jeffrey Girton, and I headed to Paris this past Christmas to enjoy three months in Europe playing alongside these great musicians. Our first project was Handel’s Jephtha in eight performances at the Opéra national de Paris / Palais Garnier.
But the moment we played the downbeat of Jephtha’s Overture in our first orchestra rehearsal, the immersion into the work proved completely liberating, digging into the luscious full sound that embodies Les Arts Florissants and being able to fit right into a group that played so unanimously with such a warm, enveloping sound. And the musicians were friendly and warm, further putting me at ease. We were led by concertmaster Hiro Kurosaki, whom I admire greatly for his clear and decisive leadership, outward musicality, and kind spirit. The cast for Jephtha was marvelous, including stellar artists Ian Bostridge and Katherine Watson. Between the gripping dynamics of the singers and Mr. Christie, I could look out into the front row of the audience and see them in tears night after night.
Next up – tour to Vienna, Barcelona, Madrid, and Pamplona for performances of Handel’s Ariodante. As I write this, we are still on tour and today will be our fourth performance of Ariodante at the Wiener Staatsoper.
All in all, the music is incredible, playing under Mr. Christie most inspiring and not least, having made so many wonderful new friends in the orchestra – it has been one of the best experiences of my life!
Be sure to check back at earlymusicamerica.org tomorrow (March 23, 2018) for part II of our McKay Lodge sisters series. We’ll hear from Georgina McKay Lodge, who is concurrently traveling in Europe during March 2018, taking baroque viola lessons from renowned teachers like Shunske Sato, the 33-year-old Japanese concertmaster of the Netherlands Bach Society.
Augusta McKay Lodge is a native of Oberlin, Ohio. At the age of 25, she has earned a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, a Masters of Music from Indiana University Jacobs School, and a Masters from The Juilliard School in historical performance where she was a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. While at Juilliard she studied with Cynthia Roberts, Monica Huggett, Elizabeth Blumenstock, and Robert Mealy.
Augusta began her studies early on and continued at the Moscow Central Special Music School. She received honors (Pi Kappa Lambda) from Oberlin Conservatory upon graduation at the age of 19 and spent an exchange semester at Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2011. Previous teachers include Alexander Kerr, Stanley Ritchie, Marilyn McDonald, Milan Vitek, Johannes Leertouwer, Sophie Gent, and Almita Vamos.
Augusta plays on a Jason Viseltear baroque violin from 2014. Further information to be found at: www.augustamckaylodge.com
“A musician no longer arrives in France without a sonata or a cantata in his pocket.“
Thus the Mercure of November 1713 reported on the Italianate vogue that was sweeping away Paris at the beginning of the 18th century. We are in the late reign of Louis XIV, whose repeated absences during Versailles’ entertainments had prompted a migration of the courtiers out of the palace. As Georgia Cowart observes, freed from the adulatory disguise they had to wear in front of the king, a transformation in the type of entertainment they were consuming, as well as their taste began to take place. The infiltration of Italian gusto into the French musical scene, if welcomed by ardent defenders and patrons, was not totally devoid of chauvinistic criticism. The solution? Imprint the French gracefulness in Italian forms.
Our Festival program will present two of these cosmopolitan works: “La Piémontoise” from François Couperin’s monumental collection Les Nations; and “Pyrame et Thisbé,” a cantata by Michel Pignolet de Montéclair that, according to its composer, is both epic and dramatic.
- “La Piemontoise” from Les Nations – François Couperin (1668-1733)
- Gravement – vivement
- Gravement – vivement, et marqué
- Air gracieusement – Second air
- Gravement et marqué – légérement
- Cantata, “Pyrame et Thisbé” – Michel Pignolet de Montéclair (1667-1737)
Handel’s Acis and Galatea (complete, in 2 parts)
From our founding, the music of Bach has held a special place in the hearts of The Thirteen. In our annual Bach Reflections concert, we explore what the music of Bach means for us today. Anchoring the concert will be three of the master’s Motets: Komm, Jesu komm, Der Geist hilt, and Singet dem Herrn. Illuminating the Motets is repertoire separated from Bach by time, style, and language while exhibiting the same ardent connection to humanity as Bach achieves in his timeless and varied works.
The fourth in our series of guest articles for Early Music Month
By Steve Olson
Orchestra Director – Charles M. Russell High School – Great Falls, Montana
As a high school orchestra director, I’ve always wanted my students to explore the vast expanse of music that is the Renaissance and Baroque. After six years of teaching, we’re finally producing an entire concert of early music, which is both rewarding and challenging!
The biggest challenge, by far, of early music is rhythmic independence. String students often struggle with the coordination aspect of rhythm (which string goes to which note, up or down bow, etc.), making independent polyphonic parts extremely difficult to perform organically. We’ve worked hard over the years developing solid rhythmic skills, and now that this music is finally accessible, it is also the perfect repertoire for reinforcing and expanding those skills. Students need to count and read rhythmically on their own, rather than follow a section, or even a conductor! We also experiment with conductor-less playing, which is great for developing strong communication, score study, and ensemble skills. Although we aren’t quite ready to go completely conductor-less for our March concert, we will compromise and I will lead from the harpsichord.
In a perfect world, the students would play period instruments. As that is not an option, we compensate by moving our modern bow grip higher up on the stick, adding some of the lightness provided by a baroque bow. The students also have the opportunity to try out my baroque bow and experience the extreme differences between modern and baroque bows. The cellos are also testing out playing without an endpin!
We have also experimented with tuning down to A-415! It’s great to see their expressions when they hear such a “foreign” sound, and it’s only a half-step down! However, we don’t usually stay at 415 beyond the experimentation stage. Students need to tune up for everything else they do, and until the ear adjusts to the new tonal center, tuning across the fingerboard can be quite frustrating. Luckily our high school has a real harpsichord, but it is a non-transposing A-440 instrument.
When considering repertoire, I try to program a nice mix of household names and obscure, “lost-to-history” composers. Most students will know the phenomenal works of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, etc., but there are so many “undiscovered” gems out there, many not yet in print! Thanks to IMSLP and other scholarly digital library collections, we now have access to these little-known works. Our upcoming early music concert features works by Handel and Vivaldi, as well as Schmelzer, Praetorius, Charpentier, and more!
Overall, I believe providing students an early music experience allows them to enter a world completely unlike their familiar norm. From the contrapuntal textures that entwine and enthrall the listener, to the intoxicating chord progressions and dissonances, to the parts that are actually challenging and exciting for string bass players, to the little-to-no use of vibrato, it’s something new, different, exciting, challenging, and a sheer joy to share, teach, and perform!
The Charles M. Russell High School orchestras will perform their Early Music Month concert, “Celebrate Early Music,” on Friday, March 16 at 7:00pm at the CMR HS auditorium in Great Falls, Montana.