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Early Music Finds An Old Kentucky Home

Bourbon Baroque

An Early Music Month Guest Post by Alice Culin-Ellison

As a native of Louisville, Kentucky, I’m so pleased to be co-director of Bourbon Baroque, Inc., Louisville’s period instrument ensemble; it’s a joy to bring our music to the vibrant arts community in Louisville. Bourbon Baroque, founded in 2007, actively performs both ticketed concerts and free community engagement events like our Messiah performance for Hotel Louisville residents, and a lecture-concert based around the narrative of Cato Watts, Louisville’s first enslaved person, at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. I was excited to learn about several other ensembles and opportunities for folks throughout Kentucky to experience and participate in historical performance.

Just an hour and change drive east of Louisville is Lexington, home to University of Kentucky. The university offers a certificate in baroque trumpet with trumpet professor Jason Dovel. He established what is now the “largest collegiate baroque trumpet ensemble in the United States.”

University of Kentucky Baroque Trumpet Ensemble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC)

In the fall of 2018, the UK Baroque Trumpet Ensemble performed with Mountainside Baroque, directed by Ryan Mullaney and Lyle Nordstrom, in a concert of music from Bohemian courts. This experience led the trumpet students to request playing with historical strings more often and now Dovel is planning a concert with violinist Augusta McKay Lodge for the near future. This spring, the ensemble is collaborating with Musick’s Company in a performance of Monteverdi’s l’Orfeo in Lexington (see below). In 2017, the album Music for Natural Trumpets was recorded and is available on spotify:

Back in Louisville, Dr. Jack Ashworth has been a mainstay in the historical performance community nation wide, as well as a champion for the specialty at home. Officially retired, he continues to teach early music at the University of Louisville on an adjunct basis. The program at U of L has morphed throughout its 35 years, and currently students can enroll in Historical Instrument Ensembles, an omnibus “class” covering recorders, gambas, lute, and harpsichord. Interest remains high with over 20 students and community members participating this semester.  

Dr. Ashworth is active in the Viola da Gamba Society of America, and serves on the faculty of the VDgSA Conclave. He founded and directs the Louisville Gamba Consort, a group of five community members who meet for music making and give occasional performances. In 2018, the ensemble gave a performance at the Highlands branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, bringing historical performance to the community at large.

Kentucky also has “The Center for Old Music in the New World: Bringing early music to life in Central Kentucky.” Musick’s Company, the center’s resident ensemble, is performing Monteverdi’s Orfeo in collaboration with the UK Baroque Trumpet Ensemble (see above) and members of the Lexington Community Orchestra. 

Kentucky has a small but respectable showing in historical performance throughout the state. Ensembles, experts, community members, and audiences are all part of bringing exposure and prominence to our field. #proudKentuckian #historicalperformance

Alice Culin-Ellison, D. M. A.
Co-Artistic Director | Bourbon Baroque
Co-Founder/Artistic Director | Incantare

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Marischka Olech Hopcroft: French Baroque Music

Marischka Olech Hopcroft, PhD presents a unique and historically-informed French Baroque ensemble specializing in women composers Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre and Julie Pinel, as well as music by Lully, Couperin, Rameau, Philidor, Mouret, Tessier, and others. Performers: Marischka O. Hopcroft, harpsichord; Mariana Ramirez, soprano; Jaehuan Kim, countertenor; M. Anne Rardin, violin; Marilyn Winkle, cello; Bruce Teter, musette de cour (bagpipe), recorders; Mark Walter, recorders, Adam Gilberti, chalameaux (clarinet), percussion. Dr. Hopcroft will explain what makes the French Baroque style and aesthetic unique and accessible, why the chaconne dance was banned by the church, and the unusual French instruments featured. A costumed event.

*This performance is supported in part by a 2019 Early Music Month Mini-Grant from Early Music America

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Celebrate Early Music Day 2019!

The European Day of Early Music (aka “Early Music Day’), a project organized by REMA: Early Music in Europe, celebrates its seventh anniversary in 2019 today! And as Early Music Day ambassador Jean Rondeau says: “Come celebrate the Early Music Day with us and don’t forget that this music, sometimes called “ancient”, is a movement that cannot be stopped and that you have to grasp accurately.”

Early Music America is delighted to partner with REMA for a second year in this worldwide observance. Official events this year will include live and livestreamed performances which can be viewed throughout the world. And North America is represented as well, with events in Canada, Mexico, and the United States!

Early Music Day is funded with support from the European Commission. And the REMA is funded with support from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.


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