Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Treasure Trove of Instruments

Catacoustic Consort kicks off its 13th season on October 25, with an absolutely unique event for the city of Cincinnati. In performance with Catacoustic will be Catharina Meints, one of the great viola da gamba virtuosos in the world. To have an opportunity to hear her play would be reason enough to celebrate, but something else makes this appearance unmissable.

Meints is the owner and curator of the internationally famous Caldwell Collection of Viols, one of the most important collections of antique instruments in the world. She and her husband, the late James Caldwell, spent decades acquiring, restoring, and performing on viols built in the 17th and 18th centuries.  These instruments were built during the height of the viol’s popularity, by craftsmen as well known as Niccolò Amati and Joachim Tielke. This was a time when the sound of the instrument was not the only consideration—the physical object itself was considered a work of art, lovingly worked in etchings and inlay, sometimes tattooed with pictures or maps. The collection is usually housed in a climate-controlled environment in Oberlin, Ohio, but for the first time in years Ms. Meints will be bringing several of them here to Cincinnati. They will not be on display, for us to look at behind the glass—they will be played right in front of us. Unlike most museum instrument collections, these are kept alive by frequent playing.

Meints has recently published a beautiful book about the collection. The Caldwell Collection of Viols is packed with gorgeous photographs, a memoir of a lifetime of collecting, and an audio CD of each and every one being played. Copies of this large-format, multimedia production will also be available for purchase at the concert.  

This event is part of the Constella Festival. Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to see and hear one of the greatest instrument collections anywhere. It’s happening only here in Cincinnati.

And while you’re at it, why not pick up tickets for the entire Catacoustic season? This concert is only the first of an unprecedented series of concert gems, including guest artists from Germany and Italy, vocal and instrumental music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and a tour through some of the most beautiful venues in the city. Tickets may be purchased online at