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||GOD BLESS AMERICA
September 11, 2001
'06 Go for Baroque
I've always liked classical music. I guess you could say I've grown up on it. My mom is a big opera fan.
I learned the piano when I was about 8, and the violin a bit later, around 12-13. I won't go into detail, but I
had some good teachers, and some bad. At the time, I also took 7 years of music theory and 3 years of music history.
When I moved to the States, I got into my high school orchestra and
loved it. I started out as a second violin then moved up to first, and then eventually became concertmaster.
Before orchestra, music was just a chore to me (how many times did I hear 'have you practiced your violin today?'...).
When I joined the orchestra, I realized
for the first time in my life, I enjoyed playing. In my senior year, I had a chance to go to Tennessee for a music
festival, and got to see the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg (and even won a soloist award there!).
I also participated in All County that year (ended up assistant concertmaster), and All State
(where I was way back in the second violins). I enjoyed All County. Didn't enjoy All State much. The
rehearsals were grueling, and the fun was pretty much gone at that point.
In college I was also in the orchestra, playing both first and second violin. At the time, a lot of churches were
recruiting musicians for their Christmas events. They were posted on the bulletin board, and you could pick the
one you wanted if it was still available. Thanks to this, I got to play in a number of different churches. I have
to say, this was a great experience. I don't remember one bad church I played in. They were all very
welcoming and overly friendly. I really enjoyed doing that.
These days, whenever I get a chance, I love to play the piano (though I'm far from being a professional!) and
the violin (although the piano is more readily available). I'm also a beginner on the alto baroque recorder.
As I mentioned above, I've done Christmas events in the past, with several churches. I've also done weddings, including beach weddings. If you need the services of a violinist or two (I recommend two - you'll get a fuller sound), please visit Adagio Strings, a violin duo created by my sister and myself. We hope we can help you with your wedding or special event. Any questions, just email me.
I have a fairly small (but good) CD collection. Favorites are baroque era and early music, though there are many other
pieces I like too. Some favorite composers:
Early music (medieval and renaissance): Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, Cristobal de Morales, Palestrina, Desprez,
Orlando di Lasso, Downland. Really, anything having to do with ballads, madrigals, songs and
dances of the Middle Ages is good. Also, gregoriant chant.
Baroque: Vivaldi, Corelli, Telemann, Haendel, Bach, Couperin, Rameau, Torelli, de la Barre, de Boismortier, Locatelli,
Classical, Romantic, and later: Mozart, Boieldieu, von Dittersdorf, Boccherini, Beethoven, Chopin, Holst.
Individual pieces: Vaughan Williams: Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Variations on Green Sleeves,
The Lark Ascending, The Wasps.
Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances. Johann Strauss: waltzes. Celtic music: The Chieftains, Celtic Women. Barber: Adagio. Ravel: Bolero.
Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter. Khachaturian: Spartacus. Glazunov: Seasons. Saint-Saëns: Organ Symphony. Allegri: Miserere.
Soundtracks: too many to list... The Chorus, March of the Penguins, Edward Scissorhands, and Forrest Gump come to mind just now.
Instruments-wise, I like anything having to do with violin, piano, flute, harp, oboe, trumpet or organ. Or earlier instruments
like lute, viola da gamba, recorder (esp. Michala Petri), among others.
There are a few concerts each year that I wouldn't miss for the world. Below are some of the annual events I usually attend. As we get closer to the concert dates,
I will try to keep this page updated. There are many more concerts, which you can learn about by visiting the sites I have linked below.
DUNEDIN EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Sometime in March
Bach Birthday Bash
| This is an annual event, which takes place at 3 downtown Tampa churches, starting at
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, where 3 or 4 organists - amateurs and professionals -
delight the audience with several Bach pieces. The entire audience and players then walk to the next church - usually
First Presbyterian (about a block away), where there are 3 or 4 more performances, occasionally
with instrumentals and/or voice added. Then everyone again walks to the last church, Sacred Heart
Catholic Church, where the acoustics are just amazing. 3 or 4 more performances there, and everyone walks back to St. Andrew's, where we share Bach's birthday
cake. It's a fun, friendly event with good music and good people. If you like this sort of music, you won't want to miss it. The first performance starts at 6:30pm,
and the whole thing usually ends around 8:30pm. For more information on this event, please visit the
AGO - Tampa Chapter website, or, if they don't list it, check out the
Clearwater Chapter website.
Sometime in March
Go for Baroque
|This is the Dunedin Early Music Festival, which takes place every year in Dunedin, FL. It's a full day of early music concerts held at various churches in downtown Dunedin, plus early instrument worshops and a Maypole dance and outdoors singing. This is a really fun event. In addition, every year, there is a concert held on the eve of the main event, and another special treat usually on the evening of the main event day. 2006's treat was Fortune's Wheel (see below). In 2008, the special concert featured Piffaro, the Renaissance Band (which I already knew for having 2 of their CDs), on the Sunday after the main event. I ended up buying 2 more CD's... The special concert is usually held a Peace Memorial Church in Clearwater, FL. For more information on this event, please visit the Go for Baroque website. A detailed schedule is usually posted closer to the date of the event. In 2010, there was no all-day Go for Baroque - instead, the event consisted of 4 formal concerts (not my idea of this festival, so I didn't attend). Let's hope in 2011, they go back to their regular format!
In 2006, I was lucky enough to attend an early music festival in Dunedin, FL. I printed out a schedule the day before (the organizer had emailed it to me). When I arrived downtown,
I was given a schedule, with a correction. Interestingly enough, that schedule was different from the one
I had printed out. The correction was based on that new schedule. Made things a bit confusing, but oh well.
You are visitor no.
to visit this page since June 8, 2006. Thanks!
First on the schedule was a recorder consort called the Pilgrim Pipers Recorder Ensemble, who was
playing at First United Methodist.
The church is a fairly
large one, and difficult to describe because it doesn't fit any style I've seen. From the outside, it looks like
an upside down viking ship (or a ship, at least). Inside, the ceiling rises as you walk to the front of the church,
and there are tiny stained glass slits on one side. Very odd indeed. I've never seen anything like it.
The Pilgrim Pipers Recorder Ensemble was definitely more amateur than most of the other groups, but still did a pretty good job overall. It's an 8-player group made up mostly of snowbirds. These are people who migrate south to Florida during the winter and move back up North in Spring, hence the name.
After this concert, I walked to the First
Presbyterian church and made it just in time to hear the Caladesi Consort Recorder Ensemble, a local
group made up of four recorder players and a conductor who also played the harpsichord. This group
was very good and it was a real treat to hear them play. First Presbyterian is a very small, very plain church. White walls with no decorations, bar the stained glass windows, and no statues. It is a pretty church, though, with a beautiful courtyard in front.
The Caladesi Consort was followed by the Gulf Coast Baroque Trio, a trio made up of recorder, harpsichord
and viola da gamba. This group was excellent. I was delighted to hear them play. The recorder player plays
both alto and sopranino recorders, since both are in F. Both have the same fingerings.
The tenor and soprano recorders are both in C - different octaves, of course - so they too have the same fingerings. Recorders start with bass (in F), then go to tenor (in C), alto (in F), soprano (in C), and sopranino (in F). The sopranino is the recorder equivalent of a piccolo.
The viola da gamba
(literally 'leg viol' - as opposed to viola da braccio, 'arm viol', a medieval violin) is the ancestor to
the cello. There are 6-stringed and 7-stringed instruments. The lady in this group was playing a 7-stringed
instrument. The addition of the 7th string means that it actually goes lower than a cello. It is tuned in fourths,
with one third in the middle, and if a 7th strings is present, that one is tuned a third below the 6th string.
Modern-day violins and cellos are tuned in fifths. I found that very interesting (never seen a viol being played
I stayed a little bit afterwards to talk to the recorder player, since the next thing on the program was organ,
and I'ver heard quite a lot of organ before, therefore I could skip the first few minutes of that one. The
recorder player was very friendly and put me on the mailing list for future events, since I mentioned that
few events are actually advertised. He also plays with the St. Peterburg Baroque Players (I think it is).
Around 2pm, I left and rushed to First United Methodist. I ended up sneaking in the back of the church at
intermission time. Remember that correction to the revised schedule? Well, actually even that was
wrong. Turns out what I missed was what I wanted to see, a group called Heather and Lace (flute and voice),
but I got to hear the organ instead (they switched the order). And I'm actually very glad I did, because this
guy was excellent. One of the best organists I have ever heard. Afterwards, Heather and Lace did perform,
but it was a Pergolesi piece I didn't care for. That, combined with the fact I was about to collapse from lack
of food, meant I quietly sneaked out through the back of the church during that performance.
I had a quick bite to eat from The Box Car, a small store - part snack & ice cream shoppe, part post office, located in a recycled freight car on the Pinellas Trail, a trail that extends from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, and which was created along an abandoned railroad corridor, hence the name of "box car" (more info on the trail here).
Snack in hand, I was off to the Meranova
Inn, a cute bed-n-breakfast with a nice little garden and a gazebo. By now, it was very hot. Fortunately,
most of the garden was in the shade. Unfortunately, there were only a dozen chairs, and about 30 people
in attendance. I ended up sitting down on a 3 in. wide brick border around a tree. All I can say is 'ouch'.
Soon, the Clearwater Carolers Madrigal Group, who had been waiting in the empty yard next door
(separated with a little white picket fence), walked into the garden, singing. They were dressed in period
clothing, but not those heavy dresses you often see at Renaissance festivals. They wore light dresses,
and crowns of flowers in their hair - very spring-like attire. They continued singing as they reached the
gazebo, then sang a few more pieces. At the end, they had us sing a few verses from an English balad.
The problem was remembering it. The first verse, I did pretty well. The second one, I remembered about
half. I was completely lost by the time we got to the third one. If only they'd had the sheet music, I would've
Anyway, as we were all singing, they started walking back to the lot next door, where the maypole was
located. We were instructed to follow while singing. Now, I might've been lost on the third verse, but
apparently I wasn't the only one. What other people were singing was so far removed from the original
song you couldn't tell what song we were singing. People were just making it up as they went. As we
reached the maypole area, the singing was replaced with a recorder consort, which accompanied the
Clearwater Carolers as they danced around the maypole. A little more singing, and that portion of the
schedule was done.
There was another special concert that night, about 2.5 hours later. Since I live about an hour away, I figured it was no use going back home, and then have to drive back, so I decided to stick around... I visited downtown Dunedin, saw some 15th century manuscripts at the Painted Fish Gallery, then went to the Dunedin Marina, looked at the boats, walked on a little beach, collected some shells, saw an osprey, and then headed to Clearwater via Alternate US 19, a road with follows the coastline.
The final concert of the day took place at 7:30pm. It was a special treat from
a renowned early music ensemble. Their website mentions 6 players, but only 3 were present at this concert.
They had been playing in Manhattan the night before, and were playing in Boston the next day. They flew
down to Florida just for this occasion, so this was quite a treat.
The concert took place at Peace Presbyterian in Clearwater. The church is all pink on the outside, which is a
bit odd. And, it is L-shaped, which is even more unusual. There are palm trees all around, and in each palm
tree, large groups of green parakeets. Fortunately, the music was just loud enough to cover the noise those
pesky birds were making. Inside, the church is quite large, with beautiful stained glass windows, like this one.
The concert was great. It spanned a few centuries, starting with Medieval music from the 1200s and ending
with Renaissance music of the late 1500s. Early music from the 1200s was pretty much limited to sung poems, with very little in the way of stuctured music parts. Usually the songs were accompanied by an instrumentalist who improvised on whichever instrument he happened to be playing at the time. In this case, Robert Mealy improvised on the medieval harp.
The group was made up of Mealy, who played both medieval harp and vielle (the
ancestor of the violin - of interest to me, since I'm a violinist), and two singers, Aaron Sheehan and Lydia Heather Knutson.
The concert lasted almost 2 hours - with an intermission halfway through, and focused on early French music.
Personally, I preferred music from the late medieval period and early renaissance. It's a bit more structured
than, say, music from the 1200s. I especially enjoyed pieces by Guillaume Dufay.
All of it was sung in old French, but written translations were provided, along with program notes. In addition to those, every 2 or 3 songs, the leader of the group, Mealy, took the time to explain a little bit about the period, what sort of music was being created at the time, and what the historical context was. I usually don't care for that sort of thing, but I have to say, Mealy made it really fascinating, and this, combined with the music, made for an unforgettable performance.
|Last updated on May 10, 2010
||© Mimi Christien
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