Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking Back on the Cincinnati Early Music Festival, 2015

What were the numbers?

We had eighteen unique events, at sixteen different venues. 324 performers, and 2150 audience members. This last number is 45% more than last year.

Who were the participating groups?

Cantigium. Rod and Mary Stucky. The Shakespeare Band. Catacoustic’s pre-professional mentoring program. Cincinnati Bach Ensemble. Cincinnati Camerata. Consort in the Egg. The Vicars Choral. Harpers Robin. Cantantes Camarae. Cincinnati Viol Consort. Cincinnati Recorder Consort. The Choir of Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral. Xavier University’s Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble. The CCM Opera Studio  and undergraduate series. The Knox Choir. Michael Unger’s keyboard studio. Cincinnati Chamber Opera. The Catacoustic Consort. And several ad hoc combinations that came together just for the Festival.

Who was the most ubiquitous performer of the year?

Bill Willits. He played lute, theorbo, Renaissance guitar, and modern guitar. He played with the Shakespeare Band (twice), Consort in the Egg (three times), in a Telemann flute-guitar duo, and in the pit of Poppea. 

What were some memorable moments?

  • Scott Hewitt and his contrabass recorder, an instrument that towers above its performer, that looks like a cross between a totem pole and a didgeridoo and sounds as sweet as the wind through the lava tubes of Venus.
  • The lovely performance of Hans Leo Hassler’s Verbum caro factum est by the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble. What choral music should be about.
  • Cornamuse and hurdy-gurdy duets, or the Larry and Michael show. They’ve clearly been missing from my life too long.

  • Barbara LeMay as the villainous Polinesso in Ariodante. She sneered, she seduced, she purred, she snarled, she twirled her metaphorical black mustache in every way possible.  She was hilariously evil. More bad guys like this, please!

  • Matthew Swanson saying that when he returned to the States and could have settled anywhere, he came to Cincinnati because he knew he could make a living here as a choral conductor.  That’s the kind of city we live in!
  • "Sweep chimney sweep, from the bottom to the top. Then shall no soot fall in your porridge pot." Because that would be bad.

  • The troubadour songs performed by the Harpers Robin concert. First, all those harps playing together sounded so pretty, and then suddenly during a 13th century tune called Winder wie ist the harpists began to sing.  The hair lifted off my neck and I could smell the smoke from a distant hearth and feel the damp rising from snows long melted and hear the ghosts of the minnesingers long past.
I should've taken up viola da gamba
  • Overheard by an audience member:  “They play an instrument called Vasco da Gama.  I think that’s what they’re called.”

  • As far as early music warhorses go, you can’t get much better than Les Baricades mist√©rieuses by Couperin, and it was a pure pleasure to hear it crashing out of the William Dowd harpsichord at Christ Church Cathedral.

  • Armando Linares’ voice (of Cantantes Camarae ). It’s just so warm and pleasant.

  • The entire Catacoustic concert was a standout, and the soprano Shannon Mercer was amazing, but I think my very favorite moment of the evening was the instrumental, a little sonata for harpsichord and pardessus. It was spectacularly beautiful, and the mystery is why this isn’t a warhorse.

Is there any more early music to come?

Oh yes! The Bach Festival is already in full swing, Bach Vespers happen every month, Ubi Caritas has a concert coming up in April, Christ Church Cathedral has early music going on all the time – note especially the Charpentier cantata coming up at the end of March – and Catacoustic has two more concerts left in their season, one in March and one in April. Let’s face it:  Early Music is no longer the exotic occasional guest. It’s become a standard, year-round player in the Cincinnati arts scene. Join the Cincinnati Early Music Project Facebook page to keep informed of events as they arise.

1 comment:

Karen Amelia said...

A most excellent writeup!