Vail Chapel on the Northwestern University campus was the perfect setting for the first performance of the year for Third Coast Baroque Voices. The November 11, 2017 program “Class of ‘85” featured the works of three composers, all born in 1685: J.S. Bach, Handel, and Domenico Scarlatti. It was a fascinating program and a great chance to compare and contrast some of the keyboard and vocal works of these composers.
Third Coast Baroque is entering its second season, and is a musician-founded ensemble. This group performs Baroque-era repertoire with period instruments, and the Artistic Director is Rubén Dubrovsky, an internationally-recognized conductor based in Vienna.
The Third Coast Baroque mission is to “re-frame” early music for today’s audiences. In particular, Rubén is interested in revealing the global influences that were intermingling in the Baroque era. His approach to concerts is very conversational, and he discusses the roots of different dance forms, rhythms, and musical idioms. For instance, recent performances have explored the African and Latin American folk traditions that influenced European dance forms such as the sarabande, chaconne and passacaglia.
On this night, Artistic Director, Rubén Dubrovsky, shared tidbits about the composers and the works we were about to hear, with an emphasis on the “Reframing Early Music” so that it is accessible to more individuals.
As the music began, the lovely sounds of the harpsichord, played by Mark Shuldiner, were beautiful. Each of the musical works was followed by a choral piece by the same composer. Shuldiner accompanied the vocal works on the organ. The vocalists who came from locations near and far were outstanding.
Energetically leading Third Coast Baroque Voices, Dubrovsky brought forth the gorgeous Scarlatti Stabat Mater, composed for 10 voices, with one voice per part, in addition to the serene 6-voice setting of Handel’s As pants the hart, and the virtuosic 8-part motet Singet dem Herrn by J.S. Bach.
The chapel was completely filled with an enthusiastic audience. The works of the three remarkable composers born during the same year began with Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757).
On harpsichord- Sonata in C Minor, K. 158.Andante followed by the ethereal “Stabat mater”. The voices were magnificent. For me, this was the most moving of the vocal works.
Following intermission, the works of J.S. Bach (1685-1750) included,
On the harpsichord- Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825 – Sarabande, followed by
“Singet dem Herr nein neues Lied, BWV 225. This was music written to be sung in church by parishioners.
The program closed with the works of G.F. Handel (1685-1759)
Harpsichord – Keyboard Suite No. 4 in D Minor. HWV 437 – Sarabande and variations,
Followed by “As pants the hart”, HWV 251d. What was very noticeable to me was the interaction of the voices and the cello, almost a duet, and almost a feeling of opera in the various combinations of voices and voices with instruments.
An encore of “Hallelujah” brought the evening to a close, as delighted guests walked into the cold night.
In addition to the Artistic Director, Rubén Dubrovsky performers included: Soprano- Nathalie Colas, Kaitlin Foley, and Josefien Stoppelenburg; Mezzo-Soprano – Melissa Arning, Quinn Middleman, and Angela Young Smucker; Tenor – Nolan Carter and Ryan Townsend Strand;
Bass-Baritone – Keven Keys and Paul Max Tipton; Cello- Anna Steinhoff; Harpsichord & organ – Mark Shuldiner and Bass – Jerry Fuller.
For more information visit the thirdcoastbaroque website
All photos are from the Friday night performance at St. Chrysostom’s Church, Chicago
Photographer – Steven E. Gross