Making the Music of the Past Present by Exploring Music of Scotland, Spain, France, Italy, England, the Americas and More
By JESSICA NEU
Chatham Baroque’s 2023-24 Concert Series, features a daring and visionary schedule of performances from the Baroque era and early music, encompassing various eras, ensemble setups, and global influences. This season brings historical music to life by presenting an enticing blend of Chatham Baroque’s own performances alongside those of esteemed guest artists. Additionally, it presents an impressive selection of internationally acclaimed visiting ensembles and virtuoso musicians from across the globe.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Andrew Fouts, one of Chatham Baroque’s artistic directors and violin players, as he eagerly discussed the upcoming season. In any performance, Chatham Baroque produces a holistic performance featuring costumes, unique and historic instruments, and a fusion of Renaissance and Baroque music that tells a story and transports audiences back in time. They constantly bring in guest artists and accompaniment to present something distinct that audience members have yet to experience in other venues.
Chatham Baroque will begin with their annual trio concert in October, followed by a performance of The Baltimore Consort: In Angel’s Wede – Music of Mary Queen of Scots in November. This performance will highlight the contemporary music of the time and feature live narration by Robert Aubry Davis.
Next up, the Violins of Hope exhibition will take place throughout November and feature violins that once belonged to survivors and victims of the Holocaust. These precious instruments have been returned to their families and are utilized in the exhibition as show pieces on display and will be played by featured musicians and the folks from Chatham Baroque. Some of the historic instruments will be featured on display at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, while others will be displayed as part of exhibitions around the city. The show will highlight music from Jewish composers and feature talks, lectures, and discussions about Jewish life and heritage. Chatham Baroque will perform as part of the exhibition on Monday, November 6th.
The December performance, Alegria – Music of Baroque Spain and the Americas, explores Jewish musical traditions and influence, featuring music from the Spanish Baroque and Colonial Latin America eras. These performances specifically focus on the stylistic transformation of music after the expulsion of the Jewish population from Spain in 1492.
In January, Chatham Baroque provides a transformative experience that takes audiences to Canada. The performance will feature two Canadian musicians. One of whom is renowned Canadian flutist Chris Norman, who has played with Celine Dion as the featured flutist on her hit song, “My Heart Will Go On” (Theme from the movie Titanic). These performances will delve into traditional Canadian folk songs that originated in the musical compositions accredited with originally bringing Baroque music to Scotland.
In February, Chatham Baroque’s Andrew Fouts joins with the Cleveland Baroque ensemble, Apollo’s Fire, a high baroque and a larger ensemble led by Jeannette Sorrell. Together, they will perform Apollo’s Fire: Violin Fantasy, based on the work of beloved violinist of Saltsburg, Heinrich Biber. Fouts explained that they will perform Biber’s Sonatas, “Mysteries of the Rosary.” The Sonata contains 15 pieces, symbolic of the 15 stations of the cross; they were meant to be played in a liturgical context. Each piece is unique as multiple violins are used because each piece requires a unique tuning. There is only one piece that is composed for standard tuning. Concluding this powerful story is a final 16th piece, a violin solo, whereas the other 15 pieces are performed with accompaniment. Fouts noted that this is not only a historical piece of music but also highlights the score itself, a significant achievement in printing and publication.
March features the Joy of Bach, which Fouts notes is becoming an annual event. This performance celebrates Bach’s birthday with a vocal performance from Jonathan Woody singing Bach’s Cantata 82. Fouts described this piece as a meditation on accepting death that features a solo oboe, harpsichord, organ, cellist, double bass, and viola. This performance will also celebrate Bach historian and University of Pittsburgh professor Don Franklin, who wrote and edited books on Bach but sadly passed away two years ago.
The season will conclude with what Fouts called a virtuoso duo – Parker Ramsay on harp/harpsichord and Arnie Tanimoto on viola de gamba. Together, they will perform “In the Court of the King” – Music of Bach and Marais. This piece is unique because it features the viola da gamba, which has six strings tuned in 3rd and 4th, versus the violin traditionally tuned in 5th. Fouts noted that this performance will feature great composers who wrote great music to showcase great musicians.
When discussing how the Chatham Baroque performances can still resonate or speak to a younger generation of music fans that may find this genre to be outdated, Fouts explained that for those who primarily go to pop music shows, the music heard at Chatham Baroque performances still has the same level of engage-ability and sing-ability. It is even rock ‘n roll-like to an extent.
These performances feature beautiful music, whether instrumental or sung. There is no intensely long piece where you must sit or be on one compositional train of thought for any extended period. The performances feature songs that are put together like an album. The whole experience flows, engages, and diverts in a manner similar to that of a concept album. There is a story imbedded in theater or drama whether on a meta-level or on a level that tells a story through music within a particular piece or across a program; there’s always a story.
Chatham Baroque tells stories through music and uses music that was considered “pop” music from its respective time period. Fouts noted that when listening to singer-songwriters in any genre today, he often feels a kinship to the music he performs. The music of the Baroque era was popular for a reason. All music was once new music.
Fouts feels that this notion is a great way to approach any music that you are unfamiliar with. Ask yourself, “Why did this ‘pop’ for the people of the time?” Chatham Baroque is immersed in that notion. There is an element of transportation to being an audience member at a show where you can close your eyes and be somewhere else in another time or place, even for just a few moments.
2023/2024 CHATHAM BAROQUE + RENAISSANCE & BAROQUE SERIES CONCERTS: Dates, Times, Locations and Artists
Chatham Baroque: Art of the Trio Friday-Sunday, October 6-8, 2023, Emily Norman Davidson Memorial Concert
- Friday, October 6, 7:30 p.m., St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church, Millvale
- Saturday, October 7, 7:30 p.m., Hicks Memorial Chapel, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
- Sunday, October 8, 2:30 p.m., Hicks Memorial Chapel, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Chatham Baroque’s Andrew Fouts (violin), Patricia Halverson (viola da gamba), and Scott Pauley (theorbo & baroque guitar) present their annual trio concert, continuing their musical exploration as a trio, showcasing their most adventurous and virtuosic music, tight ensemble playing, and mischievous sense of fun.
The Baltimore Consort: In Angel’s Wede – Music of Mary Queen of Scots Saturday, November 18, 2023, 7:30 p.m. Calvary Episcopal Church
With live narration by Emmy Award winner (and television and radio personality) Robert Aubry Davis, this program features Scottish, French, Italian, and English music, illustrating the different periods in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The Baltimore Consort artists include: Danielle Svonavec, soprano, Mindy Rosenfeld, winds, , Mary Anne Ballard, viols, Larry Lipkis, viols and recorders, Mark Cudek, cittern, Ronn McFarlane, lute, Robert Aubry Davis, narrator
Chatham Baroque: Alegría – Music of Baroque Spain and the Americas Saturday & Sunday, December 16-17, 2023
- Saturday, December 16, 7:30 p.m., Hicks Memorial Chapel
- Sunday, December 17, 2:30 p.m., Levy Hall, Rodef Shalom
Chatham Baroque’s holiday program explores the music of Baroque Spain and the New World. Nell Snaidas (soprano) and Raquel Winnica Young (mezzo-soprano) charm and dazzle singing in their native Spanish, extolling the joys of the season as expressed through the unique music of Hispanic colonial times.
Andrew Fouts, violin, Patricia Halverson, viola da gamba, Scott Pauley, theorbo and guitar.
Chatham Baroque: Through the Wood, Laddie – Music of Baroque Scotland and Acadia Friday-Sunday, January 26-28, 2024
- Friday, January 26, 7:30 p.m., Teutonia Männerchor
- Saturday, January 27, 7:30 p.m., Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie, PA
- Sunday, January 28, 2:30 p.m., Hicks Memorial Chapel, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
A unique program featuring special guests Chris Norman (wooden flutes and pipes) and Pascale Beaudin (soprano), both having roots in the Canadian Maritime provinces. The ensemble and superb guest artists bring to life a program of music ranging from Baroque Scotland to French Canadian folk tunes from the Acadian tradition.
Andrew Fouts, violin, Patricia Halverson, viola da gamba, Scott Pauley theorbo.
Apollo’s Fire: Violin Fantasy Sunday, February 18, 2024, 4:00 p.m. Calvary Episcopal Church
Grammy-winning ensemble Apollo’s Fire returns to the R&B stage with a new program based on Heinrich Biber’s stunning Sonatas on the Mysteries of the Rosary, along with instrumental works inspired by the baroque tradition of Stylus fantasticus (the “fantastical style”). Apollo’s Fire concertmaster Alan Choo joins Grammy-winning harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell, Pittsburgh favorite Andrew Fouts, and a colorful ensemble of lutes, harp, cello, and lirone to present their unique interpretation of these masterworks in celebration of their new album release.
Apollo’s Fire artists include: Jeannette Sorrell, harpsichord director, Alan Choo, Andrew Fouts, violin, Rebecca Reed, cello, Billy Simms, Brian Kay, plucks, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, lirone, Anna O’Connell, harp, Peter Bennett, organ
Chatham Baroque: Joy of Bach Friday & Saturday, March 15 & 16, 2024
- Friday, March 15, 2024, 7:30 p.m., Calvary Episcopal Church
- Saturday, March 16, 2024, 7:30 p.m., Calvary Episcopal Church
Featuring Bass-Baritone Jonathan Woody singing J.S. Bach’s Cantata, Ich habe genug (BWV 82) and the joyous Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 for two violas, two violas da gamba, and continuo, this program celebrates Bach’s birthday with some of his most beloved works.
Andrew Fouts, violin, Patricia Halverson, viola da gamba, Scott Pauley theorbo.
With special guest artists: Jonathan Woody, bass-baritone, Kathryn Montoya, oboe, Cynthia Keiko Black, violin, Rebecca Humphrey Diedrich, cello, Martha McGaughey, viola da gamba, J. Tracy Mortimore, bass, Justin Wallace, harpsichord and chamber organ, Alan Lewis, organ prelude
Parker Ramsay, harp & harpsichord, and Arnie Tanimoto, viola da gamba: In the Court of the King – Music of Bach and Marais Saturday, April 6, 2024, 7:30 p.m.
Hicks Memorial Chapel, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Music from courts of 17th and 18th Century Europe showing the world in which viol virtuoso and composer Marin Marais lived and his influence on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
TICKETS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS
Subscriptions, which include seven concerts plus one bonus ticket, are $240 ($180 with senior discount). Single tickets at Early Bird Price: $40 General Admission, $30 Senior Discount, and $20 Students. Full Price: $45 General Admission, $35 Senior Discount, and $25 Student. Full price charges are applied beginning Friday, two weeks before each concert program. For more information or to purchase subscriptions and tickets, visit https://www.chathambaroque.org/23-24-concert-series/.