Monday, July 14, 2008

Harpsichord visit...

In the fall of 2007 the Catacoustic Consort received a grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Abraham, Katie Eleanor, and Natalie Feld Memorial Fund for the purchase of a harpsichord. I was lucky enough to find an instrument that was in fine playing shape thanks to the repair work of Ben Bechtel in Columbus, Ohio. We have since used our new instrument in several concerts and are excited about the programming possibilities that this instrument will afford us - and other music ensembles in the region.
I received a phone call recently that the maker of the harpsichord, James Campbell was in town along with Martha Folts, the woman for whom he made the instrument. In addition, they were with Nina Key, who helped build the instrument. They all came over tomy home to visit this instrument, which was made in 1982 right here in Cincinnati. Soon after making this harpsichord, Mr. Campbell stopped making instruments to become an Episcopalian priest. It was a pleasure to have Jim, Nina, and Martha over. Martha was practically in tears, as she said it was like visiting a family member. She said that the sound has improved greatly and is even richer than she remembered.
Catacoustic is presenting a harpsichord inauguration concert in November 2008, and we hope to have Mr. Campbell back to offer a pre-concert talk to talk about being a harpsichord pioneer in Cincinnati in the 1970's and 80's. Believe it or not, there was a lot of harpsichord activity in the city back then. A historical keyboard society was formed with numerous members. The society hosted conventions, even bringing the famous harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt to Cincinnati to perform and lecture. (Incidentally, Leonhardt performed on Catacoustic's harpsichord!) Noted harpsichord maker Ben Bechtel was also in Cincinnati making instruments, in addition to Larry Brown, the well-known lute maker. Cincinnati played a key role in the revival of early instrument making!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer Concerts on the Road

June 6, 2008
Summers are a time of purification after a busy concert season with Catacoustic. It is a time of anticipation and creative renewal. I often find myself on the road, playing concerts with other ensembles or teaching at early music workshops. This summer has been no exception. In May, I traveled to Los Angeles to play on the Ventura Music Festival with the Concord Ensemble. Concord is an early music vocal ensemble that formed when I was a music student at Indiana University’s Early Music Institute. The core members of the group are some of my dearest friends, and those of you who are regular Catacoustic concert attendees would recognize Scott Graff, Pablo CorĂ¡, and Dan Carberg from the singers. I am proud to say that the program we performed was inspired by two separate Catacoustic programs: Amore (Monteverdi’s 7th & 8th book of madrigals), and The Sirens of Ferrara (17th-century Italian music for three sopranos). How exciting to know that our programming in Cincinnati is influencing the tide of early music programming across the country! Another musician in this concert was Daniel Zuluaga on theorbo, who played in our January 2008 concert of music from Tous les Matins du Monde. This was a magical week of music making, eating fabulous food, long talks about music and life, and enjoying the change of pace of life in the exciting city of Los Angeles.
June 24, 2008
I just returned from concerts in Oregon with one of my dearest friends, Joanna Blendulf. Daniel Zuluaga played in this concert, as well. This world of early music professionals is a small one! We performed music for two pardessus de viole (the smallest member of the viola da gamba family – a hybrid combination of the gamba and violin). Joanna and I have known each other since we were teenagers, when we first met each other at Interlochen Arts Camp. A lovely friendship and musical partnership has since blossomed. Joanna and I have a very special musical partnership, which one is fortunate to ever find in life. Our musical ensemble could be compared to two friends who have known each other for years. When they get together to talk, the conversation flows naturally and freely, with inspiring things being discussed. People in the audience commented, "It was like there was one person with two bows!" I would have to agree. Playing with Joanna is inspiring. We make each other into better musicians. Our concerts were in Eugene and Portland, and we will present similar programs in Cincinnati and San Francisco in April 2009. Our week of music making led us to decide to record this musical program. So, you can look forward to a new Catacoustic CD in the upcoming year!